As industry stakeholders continue to wrap their minds around the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic, CEDIA is providing another tool to help fill in the blanks. In an effort to help industry manufacturers and suppliers better understand key challenges and opportunities facing integrators and industry tradespeople, CEDIA has announced results of a study examining overall sentiment and project behaviors of CEDIA professionals. The online survey, a collaboration with The Farnsworth Group, was conducted April 13-28, 2020. The results include data from nearly 350 professionals in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom who do at least half of their work in the residential space.

"I think there's a lot of expectations or assumptions out there about what this means — particularly for the contractor or pro side of our business," said Farnsworth Group Partner and Director of Business Development Grant Farnsworth. "When we look at the overall impact and ask that question, it's not a big shock that there is a large negative sentiment out there in regard to how COVID-19 is impacting their business." He added that smaller firms, or those with annual revenue of less than $500,000, are feeling squeezed more than firms with revenue of more than $2 million. Smaller firms bearing a larger impact, Farnsworth says, is a trend seen throughout the global economy at large. 

A look at the overall results shows 64 percent of U.K. respondents and 54 percent of U.S. and Canada respondents say COVID-19 had a big negative impact on business. Thirty-three percent in the U.S. and Canada and 29 percent in the U.K. characterized COVID-19 as a small negative impact. Only 5 percent in the U.S. and Canada and 4 percent in the U.K. registered no impact. And an even smaller number — 6 percent of U.S. and Canada respondents and 1 percent of U.K. respondents — noted a small positive impact.

Both segments (U.K. and U.S./Canada) are experiencing a major negative impact with regard to the amount of work being done — a collective dip of 80-90 percent less work — and the professionals surveyed in the U.K. are expressing the productivity lag to a higher degree.

"I think something that's worth noting right off the bat is (the U.K.) is under one set of legislation here," said CEDIA EMEA Brand and Communications Manager James Bliss. "The governmental/national/federal legislation equivalent here is covering everybody, so there's no local legislation as to who can or can't be on site." Early on in the U.K., there was a national break for on-site construction projects, while in the U.S. especially, the open or closed nature of projects varied municipality to municipality.

The study also found that more than 90 percent of all respondents have experienced COVID-19-related delays or stoppages in the 2-3 weeks leading up to their survey participation.

Respondents believe the most common causes of delays or stoppages include: Homeowners not wanting contractors in their home (79 percent in the U.S. and Canada, 71 percent in the U.K.); government mandate/policy (61 percent in the U.K., 50 percent in the U.S. and Canada); homeowner became concerned about finances (48 percent in the U.S. and Canada, 36 percent in the U.K.); don’t feel comfortable being in close contact with others (56 percent in the U.K. and 37 percent in the U.S. and Canada). 

Most respondents (66 percent in the U.K. and 64 percent in the U.S. and Canada) think delays or stoppages will last 1-3 months. 

The top concerns for the future among all respondents include: finances — paying bills (64 percent in U.K., 61 percent in U.S. and Canada); personal or staff health and safety (58 percent for each group); ability to get leads/project requests (61 percent in U.K.; 50 percent in the U.S. and Canada).

Bliss says the massive lockdowns have opened the door potentially for integrators since consumers have been forced to be more hands on for more time with their technology at home — be it from a home office or while experiencing digitally delivered entertainment.

"How frustrated will some of those people have been with their connection while they've been stuck at home?” Bliss said. “The opportunity is going to lie immediately after this when people realize their network is not what it should be and they've had to experience that in a really tough way.”

Deeper details on the study results, including demographic figures of respondents, are available to CEDIA members here.