Veterinary update: COVID-19 practice turnover summary

Published: Thursday 15 October 2020

Further to our previous updates on the impact of COVID-19 on turnover, we have our latest figures for July and August. In line with the recent article in the Vet Times, from the data that we have collated, our clients are also showing the same positive trend in returning to normal levels of trade or, in a number of cases, better than the same month last year.

From speaking to clients, a number of practices are reporting that footfall is up and they are busier than ever and this is not necessarily just down to ‘catching up’ on the work that could not be done during April and May. Practices appear to have adapted well to the changing environment and now have a good set of procedures in place even though clearly practices are still not working ‘normally’.

Although the data pool is not large, it does cover a good cross section practices. We have not broken down the data between small animal, large animal, equine etc.

The average turnover variances for April to August are set out below:

  Month Total
Turnover March April May June July August  
Increase/(decrease) compared to same month in 2019 2% (27%) (10%) 10% 28% 8% 11%
Decrease where reduction seen (11%) (32%) (19%) (17%) (15%) (15%)  
Largest increase/(decrease) on same month in 2019 (35%) (63%) (37%) (41%) (27%) (25%)  
Increase/(decrease) compared to February 2020 N/A (33%) (18%) 3% 19% (2%)  

For the purposes of the above, February 2020 is being treated as the last ‘normal’ month.

Staff costs

We have only included the cost of those employees still working i.e. not the furloughed employees. We have also not made any adjustment for those who are owners of the business.

When compared to February, a ‘normal’ month, the changes in staff costs were as follows:

  Month Total
Staff costs March April May June July August  
Staff costs vs. Feb (1%) (35%) (31%) (14%) 2% 3% (76%)
Staff costs vs. 2019 N/A N/A (28%) (13%) 5% 8%  
Staff cost % of turnover 32% 33% 21% 15% 18% 24%  

The figures do not take into account any hours worked by owners or indeed additional hours worked by employees who may not have received overtime, in order to ensure the practice is safely operational.

The majority of practices now have all staff back in the practice and working with only limited people on furlough due to personal circumstances.

In general, even with lower staff costs through April to June, many practices were actually achieving a lot with reduced staffing teams, albeit this was clearly not sustainable in the longer term and this has been reflected in the increase in staff costs from July. It is key that practices continue to learn from their current experiences and there may well be some elements of how they were (and are working now) which remain for the longer term. There are positives to take away despite the continued uncertainty around us all at the moment. 

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