Updates to this research will be published fortnightly to track the impact and response to COVID-19. View Previous Wave.
The latest wave of the COVID-19 SME Research Tracker shows that SME confidence continues to rise as COVID-19 cases drop and restrictions ease. This week we have recorded the most positive revenue data since the inception of the research in April, with 59% of SMEs reporting declining revenue compared to 69% in the previous wave. With this uplift in revenues, 45% of SMEs are now expecting a return to Pre-COVID revenues by the end of the year.
Table 1: Decline in Revenue Due to COVID-19
We can also report very positive jobs data, with a sharp decrease in the proportion of SMEs (26%) reporting a reduction in employee numbers due to COVID-19. We are also seeing a consistent uplift in recruitment activity, with the number of SMEs trying to fill roles rising from 12% to 18% over the past month. This is a broad-based recovery across most industry sectors, but hospitality continues to drive the greatest demand.
Table 2: Job Roles
Despite the positive revenue and jobs data, most SMEs continue to expect long term implications for the global economy as many countries struggle to contain COVID-19. However, monthly tracking data demonstrates SMEs are gradually becoming more confident regarding the Australian economy, staff numbers and capital expenditure.
Table 3: Impact of COVID-19
With the rise in sentiment it is not surprising that the proportion of SMEs very concerned about business survival has dropped to 20%, from 32% in early September.
Table 4: Level of Concern about Business Survival
In summary, sentiment amongst SMEs is ramping up with strong revenue and jobs data signalling a boost for the Australian economy as we approach the Christmas period.
The reduction in JobKeeper payments and other stimulus programs does not seem to have dented confidence as SMEs continue the road to recovery. While other countries struggle to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, it is fantastic to see Australian SMEs increasing recruitment and investment activity to drive growth.
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.