First ABS data on COVID-19 impact

by Madison Utley27 Mar 2020

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) yesterday released the results of its first ‘Business Impacts of COVID-19’ survey, shedding light on the prevalence and nature of the adverse influence the virus has had on Aussie businesses as of mid-March 2020.

The collection period for this survey predated the government’s implementation of Phase 1 social distancing measures, which has forced many small businesses to drastically change their operations and likely face even more acute challenges. 

At the time of the inagaural survey, however, approximately half of the Australian businesses surveyed (49%) were already suffering to some degree as a result of COVID-19, with 86% of businesses expecting to be impacted in future months.

The mid-March results also revealed the adverse impacts were most prevalent in accommodation and food services, with over three quarters of businesses (78%) already reporting impacts and 96% of businesses reporting they expected impacts in coming months.

Businesses in professional, scientific and technical services (21%), electricity, gas and water supply (34%) and in mining (37%) were the least likely to have been adversely impacted by COVID-19 in the collection period.

A reduction in local demand was the most common impact experienced (82%) and was also the most common impact expected in coming months (81%).

Of impacted businesses, over a third had experienced staff shortages (36%) and 59% expected to experience staff shortages in coming months.