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SMEs remain cautious, but sentiment continues to strengthen

MEDIA RELEASE: October 21 2021: The green shoots reported in September continue to grow as lockdowns and restrictions are lifted. While many SMEs remain cautious, sentiment regarding economic conditions and short-term revenue growth is rebounding quickly.

While 57% continue to report lower revenues than before the pandemic, 38% expect economic conditions to improve over the next 3 months and 32% expect their revenues to increase in November, compared to 24% in the last wave.

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

While employment numbers remain subdued with only 18% of SMEs looking to fill positions in October (down from 21% in September), we are likely to see this figure climb as the economy strengthens in the run up to Christmas. Accordingly, 40% of SMEs believe skilled migrants should be allowed to enter Australia immediately.

Despite the ongoing increase in business sentiment, capital investment is not likely to increase significantly over the next 3 months as SME decision makers take a cautious approach, waiting for more clarity regarding the strength and speed of the economic recovery.

In line with the expected rebound, satisfaction with the Federal Government has increased from lows of 30% in August, to 38% this month. The negative sentiment in NSW has also diminished with the end of lockdowns. Support for the new premier seems strong with 50% satisfied compared to the 24% reported in September before the change of leadership.

SME decision makers remain positive in relation to the vaccination roll out with 96% intending to get vaccinated up from 92% in September.

ACA Research, Managing Director, James Organ said: “In summary, revenue and employment data remain weak amongst SMEs, but with the end of lockdowns the level of optimism continues to grow and hence concerns about business survival and health and wellbeing have subsided.

While SMEs remain cautious it is likely sentiment will strengthen over the next 2-3 months as SMEs benefit from an increase in consumer spending.”

Website: ACA Research and Ovation

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