The Impact Survey is a weekly assessment of pro AV industry trends, attitudes and perceptions in light of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic.

As quickly as the pandemic has swept across the globe — impacting countries, states, and localities in new and unforeseen ways on an almost daily basis — so too has the professional audiovisual industry rapidly begun to feel its effects. Many continue to indicate they are attempting to fast-track certain projects while they can, but as governments announce stricter measures, such efforts will come under pressure.

“Client site access is our biggest challenge, as this affects our ability to complete work and keep people employed,” said one AV provider.

In this second weekly survey of AVIXA™ AV Intelligence Panel members, fielded March 23–24, 85 percent of AV providers and 83 percent of AV end users said their companies have felt a negative impact from the coronavirus pandemic, essentially the same results as one week ago.

Said one AV provider describing the situation: “The good: Business has increased in terms of helping customers with data connectivity, security, expanding cloud licenses, and providing technology to support work-from-home requirements. The bad: Projects are being put on hold, so we've seen a significant reduction in help-desk calls, project management work, and active implementations.”

Revenues Under Pressure

Notably, the share of all AV providers citing the negative effects of declining revenues (up to 58 percent, from 45 percent) and slowing sales (up to 64 percent, from 54 percent) has increased since last week’s survey.

In a very limited sample of live events professionals responding to the survey (18), every single respondent said their companies’ businesses have been impacted negatively, and 15 of the 18 characterized the result as a “large negative impact.” AVIXA Market Intelligence will continue to track unique responses from live events professionals and urges others in the live events community to join the survey panel.

What has changed quickly in only a week is respondents’ perception of revenue decline at their companies. In our first survey, when asked how much their revenues had declined over the prior two weeks, the majority of respondents said they simply didn’t know. This week, they’re starting to get an idea: 23 percent of AV providers and 36 percent of end users said revenues fell more than 50 percent over the prior two weeks, the most common answer given. Rolling up other possible responses, 45 percent of AV providers describe revenue declining anywhere from 11 to 50 percent, with 28 percent of end users estimating revenue reductions within that same range.

Of the 18 live events professionals who responded, 11 said revenue had declined more than 50 percent over the previous two weeks. According to one, “Live events has seen the largest negative impact currently, with nearly all events and shows being canceled or rescheduled.”

Keeping an Eye on Workforce Reductions

In gauging the negative impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, AVIXA Market Intelligence introduced a choice of “Reduction in staff/layoffs.” Although “canceled in-person meetings/training events” continues to be the most commonly-cited impact across AV providers and end users (with 79 percent and 93 percent of respondents, respectively, saying they’ve felt the effect at their companies, plus 17 of 18 live events respondents), 30 percent of AV providers, 27 percent of end users, and 12 of 18 live events professionals surveyed said their companies have instituted staff reduction/layoffs in the past two weeks.

Said one AV provider, “We have cut all but two people on our workforce. There is ad-hoc work from clients that we are trying to manage. It's hard to furlough the entire [staff] and then try to do their work and keep in touch with all of their clients.”

Several respondents told stories of adjusting how their employees operate, as more jurisdictions take measures to promote social distancing:

“As of today, we are having people who can, work from home instead of coming into the office,” said one AV provider. “Techs will be going straight to the jobsite unless they specifically need parts from the office. We're scheduling who will be at the office for morning deliveries/mail pickup. We are also canceling all out-of-town jobs, so our techs don't need to stay in hotels and try to find restaurants that are open for delivery. We're expecting a ‘state closed' order this week from the governor, at which point we told our staff we would pay them full pay for 2 weeks and then 2/3 pay to meet federal regulations after that.”

According to another, “With the upcoming lockdown today, we are delaying work on non-essential sites. We are servicing IT and critical systems only. We are taking this time to do remote training with our crews to get them back up to speed and ready to hit the ground running when the lock-down ends.”

A Global Pandemic Affecting a Global Industry

This latest Impact Survey also attempts to home in on responses from AV providers and end users around the world. As one might expect, respondents outside North America — both AV providers and end users— indicate a very similar impact on their businesses as respondents in North America. However, early indications are that perceptions of the impact on business itself — revenue, sales, supply chain disruptions — are greater internationally than in North America.

Of all international respondents — AV providers and end users combined — 68 percent said they perceived revenue declines impacting their companies (versus 47 percent of North American AV providers and end users); 72 percent cited slowing sales (versus 43 percent in North America); and 49 percent felt the negative impact of supply chain disruptions (versus 31 percent in North America).

“As each of the states in Australia is effectively closing its borders, we are unable to fulfill work orders that require interstate and some intrastate travel. Work in the major capital and regional cities is still proceeding, but anything outside of where we actually have staff located has been put on hold,” said one AV provider.

Said another, “Until the UK government put more strict measures in place, in terms of movement, the industry is somewhat going about as may jobs as possible, especially the subcontractors we use. Some customers are still expecting work to be carried out and others have outright refused entry to sites.” (Earlier this week, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a lockdown and ordered the public to stay home.)

The next survey results will be released on April 2.

If you would like to participate in the AVIXA AV Industry COVID-19 Impact Survey or other AV Intelligence Panel studies, please join the AVIXA Insight Community.

Visit avixa.org for the latest on COVID-19 and its impact to the AV industry and to access our entire online learning catalog for free through June 12.