Hawai‘i Companies Explain How They Scrambled to Cope with COVID

BOSS Survey of 404 local executives collects answers about closings, furloughs, reduced hours, IT investments, supply chains and more. More than 60% of the companies surveyed said they have lost more than 20% of revenue due to the COVID crisis. Part II in a five-part series.

Hawaii Business Magazine and the research team at Anthology Marketing Group collaborated on this scientific poll of 404 local business leaders that we call the BOSS Survey. Learn the methodology at the bottom of this report.

Owners, senior executives and other representatives of local businesses were asked if their companies have been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. The vast majority, 91%, said they have been impacted. The following questions measure the many ways they have been affected.


Has your company temporarily closed?

*DK/DA: Didn’t know or didn’t answer
** Not impacted by COVID-19

Retail companies (43%) were more likely to have temporarily ceased operations than businesses outside that sector (33%).


Has your company permanently closed or does it plan to permanently close?

Only a few “very small” businesses, those with two to nine employees, and “small” businesses, those with 10 to 49 employees, said they were permanently closing. No medium companies (50 to 99 employees) or large companies (100 or more employees) said they were closing permanently.

How has your revenue been affected by the crisis?

Percentages don’t always add to 100 due to rounding
*DK/DA: Didn’t know or didn’t answer

Retailers (78%) were more likely to report losses in excess of 20% than nonretail businesses (58%).


Did your company institute a hiring freeze?

Retail establishments (75%) were more likely to have instituted hiring freezes than nonretail companies (58%).


Did your company furlough or lay off staff?

Neighbor Island businesses (53%) were more likely to have laid off staff than O‘ahu businesses (38%).


Did your company reduce employee work hours or reduce hours of operation?

Again, retailers were the hardest hit sector and substantially more likely to reduce employee hours and operating hours.


Did you allow or require more of your employees to work from home?

O‘ahu companies (43%) were more likely to have instituted work-from-home policies than Neighbor Island companies (26%).


Has your company increased its investment in areas such as IT, AI, automation and outsourcing?

O‘ahu businesses (16%) were twice as likely to invest in these areas than Neighbor Island businesses (7%).


Has your company sought alternate supply chains?
Has your company increased its efforts to attract local customers?

Read other parts of this BOSS Survey of 404 local business executives

Part I: Pessimism unmatched since Great Recession, plus numbers on revenue, staffing and profit hint at second quarter devastation.

Part III: Business leaders foresee no quick recovery. Plus what they think of governmentʻs response.

Part IV: BOSS Mini Survey of 88 local retail executives asks about revenue, profit and staffing; e-commerce and competition.


BOSS Methodology

BOSS stands for Business Outlook and Sentiment Survey. The BOSS Survey was conducted by the research team at the Anthology Marketing Group. They created their sample using a listing of local companies purchased from a third-party business sample provider as well as Hawaii Business Magazine’s Top 250 list and classified yellow pages listings.

The sample of companies was stratified based on number of employees. Small businesses were divided into two subgroups. Businesses with two to nine employees were designated as “very small” and those with 10 to 49 employees were designated as “small.” Medium-size companies were those with 50 to 99 employees while companies with 100 or more employees were classified as “large.” The goal was to complete interviews with executives heading 50 businesses in each of the large and medium sectors, with 300 interviews falling into the two small business categories.

A secondary goal was to complete interviews with people at 100 businesses who describe their companies as deriving a relatively significant proportion of their revenues from the retail industry. A total of 88 retail companies were surveyed in this segment.

A total of 404 random interviews on all the major islands were conducted from March 30 to April 17, 2020. The data was weighted to reflect the proper proportions of each company segment based on number of employees as reported by the Hawai‘i Department of Labor. A sample of this size has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.0 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

Categories: BOSS Survey