The statistical information on this site may not be the latest. For the most up to date information visit the ABS website abs.gov.au

This is not the latest release View the latest release

Business Indicators, Business Impacts of COVID-19

Insights into the prevalence and nature of adverse impacts from COVID-19 on businesses operating in Australia

Reference period
March 2020
Released
26/03/2020

Key statistics

  • 82% reported most common impact as a reduction in local demand.
  • 78% of businesses in accommodation & food services adversely impacted.
  • 21% of the professional, scientific and technical services reported least likely impacted.

Main features

About this issue

This release forms part of the suite of additional products that the ABS is producing to measure the economic impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

This publication provides information on the prevalence and nature of adverse impacts from COVID-19 experienced by businesses operating in Australia in mid-March 2020.

A sample of 3,000 businesses was selected for this survey, with a response rate of 41%.

Data collection commenced on 16 March and was finalised on 23 March. The Australian Government's announcement of Stage 1 Restrictions on social gatherings were announced on the 22 March.

The ABS is committed to future collection of data to measure the business impacts of COVID-19. Any future information collected will evolve to maintain relevance in a changing environment.

Incidence of adverse business impacts

Businesses reported whether they were adversely impacted by COVID-19 in the previous two weeks and if they anticipated adverse impacts in the coming months.

Download

Approximately half of Australian businesses (49%) had experienced an adverse impact as a result of COVID-19 during the previous two weeks and 86% of businesses expected to be impacted in future months.

Download

Over three quarters of businesses in Accommodation & food services (78%) reported that they had experienced adverse business impacts in the previous two weeks and 96% anticipated impacts over the coming months.

By contrast, businesses in Professional, scientific & technical services (21%), Electricity, gas and water supply (34%) and businesses in Mining (37%) were the least likely to have been adversely impacted by COVID-19 in the previous two weeks.

Nature of business impacts

Download

A reduction in local demand was the most common impact reported for the previous two weeks (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.

 

Thematic representation of business sentiments

A word cloud is a collection words depicted in different sizes. The bigger and bolder words reflect the more common themes identified by businesses as an additional impact due to COVID-19.

Experienced impacts of the last two weeks

Word cloud showing experienced impacts of the last two weeks

Experienced impacts of the last two weeks

Word cloud showing experienced impacts of the last two weeks.
The approximate order of words in the cloud from biggest to smallest is cash flow issues, working from home, business closures, planning costs, social distancing, WHS costs, cancellations, job losses, financial markets, reducing staff hours, uncertainty, mental health, can't keep up with demand.

Expected impacts in coming months

Word cloud showing expected impacts in coming months

Expected impacts in coming months

Word cloud showing expected impacts in coming months.
The approximate order of words in the cloud from biggest to smallest is closures, job losses, cash flow issues, cancellations, working from home, travel restrictions, WHS costs, operational impacts, increased demand, reduced productivity, restrictions, financial markets, mental health, uncertainty/don't know, need to change operations, social distancing restrictions, business planning costs, reducing staff hours.

Data collection

Data was collected from 1,217 businesses through a telephone based survey, conducted between 16 and 23 March 2020. These businesses form a sub-sample of those included in the March quarter 2020, Business Indicators Survey.

When interpreting these results, please note:

  • Response rates are significantly lower than typical ABS collections (41%).
  • Non-response may be related to whether businesses are adversely impacted by COVID-19. If this were the case there is potential for systematic bias in these estimates that weighting procedures would not correct for. In particular, estimates of the prevalence of adversely impacted businesses may be an underestimate if businesses have typically not responded because they are impacted by COVID-19.
     

Technical notes - questionnaire

Supplementary business survey - business impact from COVID-19

Business impact from COVID-19 Survey Questionaire

Supplementary business survey - business impact from COVID-19

Image shows the questionaire used to survey business impact from COVID-19.
Question 1a: In the last two weeks, was your business adversely impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Answer options are:
Yes;
No.

Question 1b: How has Coronavirus (COVID 19) adversely impact your business? (select all that apply)

Answer options are:
Reduced local customer demand;
Reduced international customer demand (either overseas based customers or visiting international tourists);
Reduced stock or raw materials (such as material inputs);
Increased costs of stock or raw materials (such as material inputs);
Staff shortages due to COVID-19 related illness; quarantine measures; school closures or transport interruptions;
Other (please specify).

Question 2a:
Do you expect Coronavirus (COVID-19) to adversely impact your business in coming months?

Answer options are:
Yes;
No.

Question 2b: How do you expect Coronavirus (COVID-19) to adversely impact your business, for example? (select all that apply)

Answer options are:
Reduced local customer demand;
Reduced international customer demand (either overseas based customers or visiting international tourists);
Reduced stock or raw materials (such as material inputs); increased costs of stock or raw materials (such as material inputs);
Staff shortages due to COVID-19 related illness; quarantine measures; school closures or transport interruptions;
Other (please specify).