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One quarter of SMEs very concerned about survival

MEDIA RELEASE: July 30 2021: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.

Confidence in local and global economic conditions over the next 3 months has also declined with one third of SME decision makers expecting weakness.

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 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.

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.

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.

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

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About the COVID-19 SME Monthly Tracker:
• Based on responses from ~400 SMEs with up to 500 employees across all sectors in Australia, including metro and regional locations.
• This wave includes data collected in w/e 14th July 2021.
• Each respondent is a financial decision maker/ influencer in their business. • Data is weighted by state and number of employees to reflect the national distribution of businesses across the country.

Website: ACA Research and TEG Insights

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