Business Now - March Quarter 2020

What is the survey about?

The Survey of Business Expectations is a quarterly survey which highlights the South Australian business community’s view of current and future economic conditions. In partnership with advisory firm William Buck, the results are analysed, deciphered and published in our quarterly joint publication, Business Now.. These results inform Business SA policy and advocacy work and provide a robust indicator to government and other stakeholders of the business environment in South Australia. You can view all the past results here.

March Quarter Results

The March quarter Business SA – William Buck Survey of Business Expectations has shown a catastrophic decline in business confidence and conditions to the lowest level in the 40 year history of the State’s longest running survey of business owners.
The economic impact of COVID-19 was significant in the quarter with business confidence dropping 44.1 points from 85.1 to 41. Conditions also nose-dived deep into negative territory, dropping 30.5 points to 66.8 points.
More than than 70 per cent of businesses also reported a 30 per cent or more drop in revenue for the quarter is unprecedented in modern times.
Businesses across the board felt anxiety about the immediate months ahead with 36 per cent casting doubt over whether they could survive another three months of restrictions. In the accommodation, hospitality and retail sectors, this was even higher with 52 per cent saying it was unlikely they would survive another three months of compromised trading.
There is no doubt this dramatic fall in confidence is catastrophic for the SA economy.
However, it could have been a lot worse with a strong sense of businesses getting good support from both the State and Federal Government as well as the banks.

Insights: Jamie McKeough, Managing Director, William Buck

William Buck Managing Director Jamie McKeough said there was some shining light in the COVID-19 storm.
“Despite the clear fall in confidence, what the survey also showed is South Australia’s ability to rapidly adapt to adversity and not throw in the towel,” he said.
“More than 83 per cent of businesses indicated they had been able to adjust their operations in some way to continue operating through the crisis, while a quarter introduced a new specific service or product in this time.
“It will be a long march to the end of this economic crisis, and we have only just begun.”

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