According to a special Roy Morgan snap SMS survey of 1,148 Australian businesses, in mid-March, over 60 per cent of businesses reported being affected by COVID-19, as opposed to only 15 per cent of businesses surveyed at the end of last month.
Analysing the results in more granular detail reveals that 17 per cent of businesses are being affected “a great deal”, 31 per cent are “somewhat” affected and a further 12 per cent have been affected “a little”.
Only 40 per cent of businesses now report not being affected “at all” by the coronavirus, down from 85 per cent of businesses a month ago.
As for firm size, Roy Morgan pointed out that a super majority of 81 per cent of small businesses with an annual turnover of between $1 million and $5 million report being affected by COVID-19 — higher than businesses of any other size.
This compares to 73 per cent of large businesses with an annual turnover of $50 million or above, and 71 per cent of medium businesses with an annual turnover of between $5 million and $50 million.
The least affected are micro businesses with an annual turnover of less than $1 million. Even so, a majority of 58 per cent of these businesses reported that they are feeling the impacts of the coronavirus.
Roy Morgan chief executive officer Michele Levine warned that the government will need to step up and do more to protect businesses from the unprecedented threat.
“The Morrison government has already promised over $20 billion in stimulus to keep the Australian economy moving; however, that figure will need to be raised many times over to truly protect the Australian economy from a devastating recession the likes of which Australia hasn’t seen since World War II,” Mr Levine said.
Several industries have been hit especially hard, including 78 per cent of manufacturing businesses, 74 per cent of wholesale trade businesses, 83 per cent of recreational and personal businesses, 75 per cent of information media and telecommunications businesses, 74 per cent of property and business services firms, and 72 per cent of transport, postal and warehousing businesses.
The state-by-state data suggests that South Australia has been hit hardest, with 68 per cent of businesses reporting consequences, followed by NSW and Victoria.
Recession on the cards
A recent out-of-cycle survey conducted by Finder found that almost all of the 15 surveyed experts expect a recession on the back of the coronavirus impact.
But while 13 out of 15 said that a recession is now likely, two-thirds said it would be over by the end of the year.
Graham Cooke, insights manager at Finder, said that while the fear of recession had been brewing for a while among the general public, economists had until recently been more optimistic.
“We’ve seen fear of recession among the Australian public grow over recent months, while the vast majority of economists were saying it wouldn’t happen,” he said.
“COVID-19 pouncing unexpectedly on an already weakened Australian economy has very much changed the game.”