8160.0.55.005 - Quarterly Counts of Australian Businesses, Experimental estimates, 2019 - 2020  
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Quarterly Counts of Australian Businesses, Experimental Estimates, August 2019 - August 2020

Author area: Business Register Unit, Industry Statistics Division

Introduction

The last twelve months have been unprecedented in the scale and speed of changes impacting businesses, from the 2019-20 Australian bushfire season starting in late-2019, through to the COVID-19 pandemic impacting Australia from March 2020. These events have impacted businesses in different ways; some industries have been heavily restricted (for example the tourism industry resulting from bushfire evacuations and border closures due to COVID-19), yet for others this has been a period of growth or innovation. During this time there have been many policy announcements, particularly by the Commonwealth and State governments, aimed at supporting businesses. There have also been a variety of government restrictions implemented to help control the spread of COVID-19.

Due to the rapidly changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ABS has released a range of new statistics to help users understand impacts on the economy. In particular, the Business Indicators, Business Impacts of COVID-19 publication provides information on the incidence and nature of impacts due to COVID-19, as experienced by businesses operating in Australia.

The annual Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits (CABEE) publication was identified as another important data source to provide critical information about business impacts during this period. In response to this need, this paper was developed to present experimental quarterly counts of Australian businesses - including business entry and exit information. This paper aims to draw out the stories behind the changes to business counts during the first 6 months of the COVID-19 pandemic impacting Australia.
Data in this paper are experimental, and produced in a similar way to the annual CABEE publication. Some new data sources and methods have been used to provide more timely information to support quarterly analysis. The annual CABEE publication will continue to provide a more detailed and comprehensive summary of annual Business Entries and Business Exits. For instance, the annual CABEE to be released in February 2021 will include the more granular geographical data that would be best suited to the analysis of the 2019-20 Australian bushfire season. It should also be noted that the quarters in this paper align with the source data extracts in mid-February, mid-May, mid-August and mid-November each year. For the purpose of this paper, a 'quarter' denotes the three-month period between each data extract. That is, the August 2020 quarter represents changes between mid-May and mid-August 2020.

At this point the ABS does not intend to produce ongoing quarterly CABEE data. User feedback is sought on the value of the data and new methods to help focus any future development of the annual CABEE publication. A selection of underlying data used in this paper is available for release on request. If you would like a copy of the underlying data, or to provide feedback, please email: business.register@abs.gov.au.

Background

Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits (CABEE) is published annually and contains information regarding actively trading businesses in the Australian economy, as at June 30 for the past five years.

Data in this paper are experimental, and produced in a similar way to the annual CABEE publication. Some new data sources and methods have been used to provide more timely information to support quarterly analysis, and therefore there may be some differences to the annual CABEE counts. The data used to produce these counts are extracted from the Australian Bureau of Statistics Business Register (ABS BR), and represent a snapshot of businesses at that point in time. The ABS BR is populated using data from Australian Business Number (ABN) registrations recorded in the Australian Business Register (ABR), and business data from the Australian Tax Office (ATO). Data on the structures of large and complex businesses are also collected by the ABS.

Key dates relating to the major government support packages for businesses associated with the 2019-20 Australian bushfire season and COVID-19 are outlined in the timeline below to provide context on the counts presented.

Image:Indicative timeline of key events, nov 2019 to aug 2020, Australia
*This timeline shows only a select number of Commonwealth Government support packages and announcements. A number of other Commonwealth and State government support packages for businesses have been announced during this time frame, for example State Government support for businesses in impacted industries, rental relief and business grants.


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