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SME sentiment slips again as lockdowns threaten recovery.

MEDIA RELEASE: June 30 2021: 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 spend.

The COVID-19 SME Tracker is conducted by leading business market research firm ACA Research in partnership with TEG Insights and tracks the impact of COVID-19 across more than 400 small and medium enterprises each month.

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.

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.

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.

ACA Research, Managing Director, James Organ said: “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.

FYI: Data from week ending 11th June 2021. (Data was collected during latest Melbourne lockdown, but prior to recent outbreaks in NSW, QLD, WA & NT)

Website: ACA Research

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