Updates to this research will be published monthly to track the impact and response to COVID-19. View Previous Wave.
The latest wave of the COVID-19 SME Research Tracker shows that for most of 2021, the recovery amongst SMEs has been steady, but with the latest outbreaks the level of confidence is regressing quickly and the outlook for the near term is uncertain. Accordingly, the latest round of Government support will be essential if SMEs are to survive the latest extended lockdowns.
The proportion of SMEs reporting lower revenues than before the pandemic has increased to 56% with the average revenue decline increasing to 17%. As key financial indicators have reversed, business confidence has retraced to levels last seen in December, with 57% of decision makers now concerned about business survival including 24% who are very concerned.
Table 1: Decline in Revenue Due to COVID-19
Confidence in local and global economic conditions over the next 3 months has also declined with one third of SME decision makers expecting weakness.
Table 2: Expectations Regarding Economic Conditions (Next 3 Months)
Despite declining confidence, employment figures amongst SMEs have not yet been impacted. The upward trend is still in place with 32% now hiring, up from 27% in June. However, competition for staff continues to increase and hence 57% of SMEs looking for new team members believe the recruitment is more difficult now than it was prior to the pandemic. The realisation of these difficulties should encourage SMEs to retain existing team members during these latest lockdowns.
Table 3: Job Vacancies
Satisfaction with the Federal Government’s handling of the pandemic has reached all-time lows with only 40% of SMEs satisfied compared to 57% in March. Clearly the poorly managed rollout of the vaccination program is now impacting opinion, as SMEs bear the brunt of the latest restrictions.
Table 4: Satisfaction with the Federal Governments Response
Concurrently, SME decision makers are demonstrating their support for the vaccination with 88% indicating they will get vaccinated up from 79% a month earlier. At the time the data was collected 40% had received at least one jab and 16% were fully vaccinated.
Table 5: COVID-19 Vaccination
In summary, sentiment amongst SMEs continues to weaken and is expected to worsen as lockdowns are extended in Sydney.
Despite further support from the Federal Government, confidence is clearly waning as frustration builds regarding the vaccination program.
While employment data remains positive, it is likely to quickly decline if restrictions remain in place for the longer term.
Please click on this link to access the full report including subgroup analysis by industry sector, size of business and State. ACA Research and TEG Insights will publish updates of this research to track the impact and response to COVID-19. Hopefully the results will become more positive as we work through this crisis together.