Monthly Decision Maker Panel data - February 2021

The Decision Maker Panel (DMP) is a survey of Chief Financial Officers from small, medium and large UK businesses. We use it to monitor developments in the economy and to track businesses’ views.
Published on 04 March 2021

The February DMP survey was conducted between 5 and 19 February and received 3,023 responses. The February fieldwork was carried out prior to the Government’s 22 February announcement on the roadmap out of lockdown in England. 

In February, businesses estimated that their sales in 2021 Q1 would be 22% lower than they otherwise would have been because of Covid-19, with employment 10% lower and investment 22% lower.

Near-term sales expectations were little changed in February compared to January. The impact of Covid-19 on sales was expected to ease during 2021, from -22% in 2021 Q1 to -11% in 2021 Q2 and -6% in 2021 Q3, and be around zero from 2022 onwards. 

The estimated impact of Covid-19 on employment in 2021 Q1 was revised down to -10% in the latest survey. That impact is expected to start to diminish in Q2 and Q3, to -8% and -6% respectively, as some recovery in employment is expected. However, these near-term employment expectations were around 2 percentage points lower than in the January survey.

The proportion of full-time employees working from home for at least one day a week was estimated to be 49% in 2021 Q1. That was an increase from 14% of employees working at least one day a week from home in 2019. In 2022 and beyond, 34% of workers were expected to work at home for at least one day a week with two or three days a week expected to be the most common working pattern.

The percentage of employees on full-time furlough (still employed but not required to work any hours) remained steady at 15% in February.

Businesses expected investment in 2021 Q1 to be 22% lower than it would have been due to Covid-19, a 1 percentage point improvement on January expectations. However, investment expectations for 2021 Q2 and Q3 were slightly lower than in January, at around -17% and -11% respectively.

Uncertainty overall fell in February. The percentage of businesses that viewed overall economic uncertainty as high or very high fell from 67% to 57% in February, but it remained higher than the 41% at the start of 2020. Covid-19 remained the largest source of uncertainty for 47% of businesses, and in the top three sources for around 82%, similar to previous months.

Brexit-related uncertainty remained unchanged in February, with 43% of businesses reporting that Brexit was in their top three sources of uncertainty.

The DMP was set up in August 2016 by the Bank of England together with academics from Stanford University and the University of Nottingham. It was designed to be representative of the population of UK businesses. All results are weighted. See Bloom et al (2017) for more details.

The DMP receives funding from the Economic and Social Research Council.