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COVID-19 News Briefs: April 17

April 16, 2020
A few short items on how COVID-19 is affecting the electrical industry.

E-signatures now accepted for surety bonds. The United States General Services Administration (GSA) recently issued an order allowing vendors and sureties to use electronic signatures in lieu of manual signatures and eliminating the requirement for any seals on the surety bonds.

“It’s imperative that public officials immediately issue these orders in their jurisdictions to allow work on critical projects to begin and continue, while maintaining important protections for construction firms, workers and taxpayers,” said Mark McCallum, CEO of National Association of Surety Bond Producers (NASBP), in the press release.

Architects see major slowdown in new design work. This important leading indicator for the construction industry is pointing in the wrong direction, according to a recent survey by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The survey found 50% of architecture firms reported fewer new design projects for March, as compared to their expectations entering the month.

In terms of work on active projects, the overwhelming majority of architecture firms (83%) are anticipating a decline in revenue for March relative to their expectations heading into the month, with over a third of firms estimating that their revenue will be at least -10% below expectations. This situation is anticipated to worsen in April, with 94% of firms expecting revenue declines, and 57% anticipating their revenue falloff will exceed -10%.

IRCG’s Pandemic Revenue Index registers -29.4% decline. Indian River Consulting Group’s (IRCG) weekly Pandemic Revenue Index for the work week of April 6-10 indicated a -29.4% decline compared with the same week a year ago. IRCG’s distributor Pandemic Revenue Index (PRI) gives distributors a weekly quantified view into how other distributors in the industry are faring with respect to revenue declines as the global COVID-19 pandemic progresses.

 “This week’s PRI Index shows a sales decline of more than 29%, which confirms that the improvement last week was an anomaly as we suspected,” said Mike Emerson, IRCG partner. “We’re hearing that there is a lot of confusion in the market right now, as distributors get conflicting messages about when the economy will ‘open up’ again. Things may become clearer in the next few weeks as to whether we’ve reached the apex, which most agree is a prerequisite for easing stay-at-home orders.”

IRCG also now offers an on-demand webinar on how businesses can design and execute a cost reduction program during the COVID-19 pandemic. The cost reduction webinar, as well as a cash-flow modeling spreadsheet and webinar, are available free on their website at ircg.com/stress-testing.