Paradise Ingredients used the opportunity to review commercial practices, with the objective to reduce costs and improve efficiency. New procedures helped limit the decline in sales to 20 percent in 2020, says Financial Director Humberto Suarez. Despite the suspension of about 10 percent of its seasonal workers, the firm managed to keep all of its 360 permanent employees, half of them women.
Holding onto workers was not unique to Paradise Ingredients. Despite the impact of COVID-19, only 15 percent of firms had laid off workers in April-September 2020, with the share declining to 11 percent in October 2020-January 2021. Two thirds of businesses adjusted their payroll by reducing hours, wages, or granting paid or unpaid leave to workers—largely due to high levels of uncertainty about the duration and depth of the shock.
Just like with P&P Marroquinería and Paradise Ingredients, many companies found in e-commerce a way to pull through during times of social distancing and lockdowns. But the adoption of online platforms hasn’t been widespread. Globally, about one third of firms have increased the use of internet, social media and other digital platforms in response to the pandemic—and less than 20 percent of businesses have invested in new equipment, software or digital solutions.
The adoption of technology was much lower among smaller firms, which typically face tougher constraints in terms of lack of demand, higher uncertainty and weaker managerial capacities. In addition, these companies often have less access to finance and more difficulty accessing high-speed internet.