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ABS reveals staggering COVID impact, widespread drop in business revenue

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
24 June 2020 1 minute readShare

Two-thirds of Aussie businesses have suffered a decrease in business revenue compared to last year, with more than three in every 10 estimating that drop to have exceeded 50 per cent.

The latest results from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) survey on Business Impacts of COVID-19 have revealed a drop in revenue across the board as a result of the coronavirus crisis, with a majority of businesses turning to their banks, lawyers and accountants for advice about operating in changed conditions. 

Businesses with decreased revenue that were operating as normal were most likely to report that revenue was up to 25 per cent lower (44 per cent), while businesses with decreased revenue operating under modified conditions were most likely to report that revenue was 25 to less than 50 per cent lower (38 per cent). 

Topping the reduction in revenue ladder were businesses in education and training, with 87 per cent of businesses in this group reporting revenue changes compared to last year. Following closely was accommodation and food services with 84 per cent, and information media and telecommunications with 80 per cent.

Not too far behind were businesses in arts and recreation services with 78 per cent, while mining appeared to be the least hit with just over 30 per cent of businesses reporting a drop in revenue. 

Moreover, more than half of businesses with decreased revenue in accommodation and food services (63 per cent), arts and recreation services (60 per cent), and information media and telecommunications (53 per cent) reported that revenue had reduced by 50 per cent or more compared to the same time last year. 

According to the ABS, less than one in 10 of all businesses (8 per cent) reported that revenue had increased compared to the same time last year.  

Businesses turn to external advisers 

The data further revealed that some 60 per cent of Australian businesses sought external advice in response to COVID-19. 

“This external advice was most likely to be obtained from organisations including banks, lawyers or accountants (81 per cent) and also federal government agencies (64 per cent),” said ABS head of industry statistics John Shepherd. 

Commonly sought advice included available government support measures (52 per cent), regulation and compliance (45 per cent), health and safety (39 per cent), and management of business finances (32 per cent).

The survey also looked into how businesses are adapting to the new environment, with three in four reporting they continue to trade with modifications. 

“The survey found that almost two-thirds (65 per cent) of all business have introduced new hygiene protocols and practices, and 57 per cent have made changes to meet physical distancing requirements,” Mr Shepherd said. 

By employment size, the proportion of all businesses that were operating under modified conditions included 72 per cent of small businesses, 85 per cent of medium-sized businesses and 90 per cent of large businesses.

ABS reveals staggering COVID impact, widespread drop in business revenue
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Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic is the editor of My Business. 

Maja has a decade-long career in journalism across finance, business and politics. Now a well-versed reporter in the SME and accounting arena, prior to joining Momentum Media, Maja reported for several established news outlets in Southeast Europe, scrutinising key processes in post-conflict societies and enabling citizens to influence decision-making.

You can email Maja on [email protected] 

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