A regular monthly poll by Bulgaria’s National Statistical Institute (NSI) has found a gloomier view of the country’s business climate in March 2020.
Carried out between March 2 and 18, the poll found that the total business climate indicator was down by 3.7 percentage points compared with February.
The indicator had climbed in November, December and January, though it registered a slight drop in February.
The March 2020 drop was driven by the worsened business climate in industry, the retail trade and the service sector, the NSI said. Of the four sectors surveyed, it was only in the construction sector that the indicator was up.
The indicator in industry was down by 5.2 percentage points, with managers in the sector pessimistic about the business situation of their enterprises, now and in the coming months.
The retail trade indicator dropped by 6.6 percentage points, similarly driven down by retailers’ expectations, while their forecasts about the volume of sales and orders to be placed with suppliers were more reserved, the NSI said.
In Bulgaria’s service sector, the indicator was down by 3.1 percentage points, with managers more reserved in their views and expectations.
The NSI said that the indicator in the construction sector was up by 1.4 percentage points, with managers taking a more favourable view of the business situation of their enterprises. They saw some increase in new orders at the close of February, though their concern about a shortage of labour had grown, the statistics institute said.
Bulgaria declared a State of Emergency on March 13 because of Covid-19. The country’s first confirmed cases of new coronavirus had been announced on March 8. Measures against the spread of the virus include an order closing shopping malls, with an exception for banks, insurance offices, payment services, pharmacies and food shops.
Across the country, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, cinemas and theatres, among other places of entertainment, have been ordered closed.
Towards the end of March, a number of firms in Bulgaria connected to the motor vehicle parts industry, military industry and shipbuilding partly or fully temporarily suspended operations, according to reports.