COVID-19 News & Views

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SME Sentiment Slips Again as Lockdowns Threaten Recovery

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 with ongoing outbreaks throughout Australia, the outlook for SMEs is uncertain. The short-term impact of the snap lockdown in Victoria has been felt with revenues and investment intentions declining. Now that further lockdowns are occurring across Australia it is likely all key indicators will continue to trend downward until these latest outbreaks are contained.

The proportion of SMEs reporting lower revenues than before the pandemic has increased to
54% compared to 46% last month. The average revenue decline has increased to 16%. Despite
growing confidence in the global economy, the latest local challenges have also impacted
expectations regarding short and long-term revenue growth, capital expenditure and marketing

Table 1: Decline in Revenue Due to COVID-19

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Despite otherwise negative data, the proportion of SMEs now hiring continues to rise with 27%
now looking for new employees. However, 85% of these businesses claim it is difficult to fill
vacant roles, including 45% that believe it is more difficult than it was prior to the pandemic.

Table 2: Job Vacancies

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To overcome this problem, 23% of SME decision- makers believe the Government should
immediately relax restrictions on labour migration to allow access to more skilled workers.
However, considering the latest outbreaks, it is unlikely the Government will change their stance
until most of the population is vaccinated.

Table 3: Labour Migration

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As expected, in the current environment, demand for the vaccination continues to grow amongst
SME decision makers with 79% indicating they will get vaccinated. 60% will also encourage their
staff members to get immunised including 18% that will make it compulsory.

Table 4: COVID-19 Vaccination

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In summary, sentiment amongst SMEs is again softer and expected to worsen. With many SMEs still adjusting to the end of JobKeeper, the latest outbreaks and lockdowns will be very difficult to navigate.

It is imperative that these latest outbreaks are contained quickly and the lockdowns now in place
in NSW, QLD, WA and NT are lifted quickly to ensure no further long-term impact on SMEs.

It is also evident that the ongoing mismanagement of the quarantine and vaccination programs is
now likely to overshadow the positive sentiment felt by Australian SMEs towards Federal and
State Governments earlier in the pandemic.

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.

Topics: Market Research Healthcare Research Thought Leadership Research COVID-19 SME Tracker