Updates to this research will be published weekly to track the impact and response to COVID-19. Week 5 results are now avalilable.
The latest wave of the COVID-19 SME Weekly Research Tracker published by Fifth Quadrant and TEG Insights reports the number of small to medium Australian businesses that are very concerned about their survival has jumped from 33% to 41%. Concern about survival is evident across all industry sectors, and particularly smaller businesses, with less than 20 employees.
This increase is concerning and demonstrates the vulnerability of the micro and small businesses if the crisis continues for much longer.
Table 1: Level of Concern about Business Survival
Consequently, 35% of small to medium businesses have reduced their headcount, including one in five (21%) slashing staff numbers by more than 50%. This reduction in staff is strongly correlated with the size of the business. Over 1 in 4 SMEs with at least 20 employees have already reduced their numbers by over 50%.
Despite these job reductions, it would appear the JobKeeper stimulus is incentivising the majority of business owners to keep their staff which will hopefully ensure a quick bounce back when economic activity resumes.
Table 2: Change in Staff Before the Crisis vs Now
Despite these increasing levels of concern and job cuts, satisfaction with the Federal Government’s stimulus package, including the JobKeeper program, has increased to 58% from 54% last week.
Table 3: Satisfaction with the Stimulus Package for Business
The Australian SME landscape remains in a very vulnerable state with growing concerns about business survival in the wake of COVID-19. However, business decision makers in SME’s are becoming more positive about the Government stimulus package, the actions taken to stop the spread of the virus and the ongoing communication. With payments starting to flow into SME bank accounts very soon, we will be watching these satisfaction levels with interest.
With an increasingly positive response to stimulus and support measures and the ongoing flattening of the curve, we are also cautiously confident that the health and wellbeing of SME decision makers will continue to improve. This week we can report that 64% are concerned about their personal health compared to 74% last week.
Table 4: Level of Concern About Personal Wellbeing
Please click on this link to access the full report including subgroup analysis by industry sector, size of business and State. Fifth Quadrant and TEG Insights will publish weekly 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.