Business confidence survey reveals ‘unprecedented’ falls in revenue for SA operators

Business confidence in South Australia took its biggest hit in decades as restrictions on trade were rolled out in response to the coronavirus pandemic, a quarterly survey by the state’s business lobby has revealed.

More than half of the hospitality, retail and accommodation operators to participate in the confidence survey, by Business SA and accountancy firm William Buck, said they doubted they would survive another three months of coronavirus restrictions.

In results Business SA chief executive Martin Haese described as “catastrophic for the SA economy”, the survey found a dramatic decline in confidence across the board and “unprecedented” falls in revenue for the majority of business operators who responded.

The March quarter survey revealed the sharpest fall in business confidence in more than 20 years, to the lowest level since records began about 40 years ago.

“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,” Mr Haese said.

“For more than 70 per cent of business to report a 30 per cent or more drop in revenue for the quarter is unprecedented in modern times.

The survey found 82 per cent of respondents in the most affected industries reported revenue declines of 80 per cent or more.

Across all industries, only 37 per cent of business operators said they were confident of surviving beyond six months of coronavirus restrictions.

It found the impact was unevenly distributed, with small businesses hit hard and larger businesses carrying on relatively unscathed.

Of the businesses that turned over under $500,000, 81 per cent reported at least a 30 per cent decline in revenue.

By contrast, businesses turning over between $10 million and $50 million experienced a “minimal” impact, according to the survey.

Survey also reveals ‘glimmers of hope’

Mr Haese told ABC Radio Adelaide that the survey had attracted the largest response in decades, and said there were also “glimmers of hope”.

“Eighty-three per cent of businesses indicated they’ve been able to adjust their operations in some way,” Mr Haese said.

“Many said the Federal Government and State Government support that’s been provided has been very valued.

“[It’s] giving business owners a sense of hope.”

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