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Business Conditions and Sentiments methodology

Reference period
January 2022
Released
11/02/2022

Explanatory notes

Introduction

This publication provides insights into the conditions and sentiments of Australian businesses.  Prior to this release, data has been collected from March 2020 to June 2021.

The reintroduction of this survey provides timely insights into the pandemic for governments, businesses, researchers and the broader community.  The data from this release compliments the ongoing range of other information the ABS produces to provide critical insights into the impacts of COVID-19 on the Australian economy and society.  

For more information refer to https://www.abs.gov.au/covid-19.

How the data is collected

The collection was conducted through a telephone based business survey between 27 January and 4 February 2022.

Scope and coverage

The Business Conditions and Sentiments Survey includes information on the following industries classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC): 

  • Mining (Division B)
  • Manufacturing (Division C)
  • Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services (Division D) 
  • Construction (Division E) 
  • Wholesale Trade (Division F) 
  • Retail Trade (Division G) 
  • Accommodation and Food Services (Division H) 
  • Transport, Postal and Warehousing (Division I) 
  • Information Media and Telecommunications (Division J) 
  • Finance and Insurance (Division K, excluding ANZSIC class 6330, Superannuation Funds)
  • Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services (Division L) 
  • Professional, Scientific and Technical Services (Division M) 
  • Administrative and Support Services (Division N) 
  • Education and Training (Division P)
  • Health Care and Social Assistance (Division Q)
  • Arts and Recreation Services (Division R) 
  • Other Services (Division S)

The scope excludes public sector business units (i.e. all departments, authorities and other organisations owned and controlled by Commonwealth, State and Local Government).

The survey includes Employing and Non-Employing Units on the ABS Business Register. However, micro non-employing businesses are excluded. These are very small units on the ABS Business Register, by standard measures of size.

Statistical unit

The statistical unit used to represent businesses, and for which statistics are reported, is the Australian Business Number (ABN) unit, in most cases. The ABN unit is the business unit which has registered for an ABN, and thus appears on the ATO administered Australian Business Register. This unit is suitable for ABS statistical needs when the business is simple in structure.

For more significant and diverse businesses where the ABN unit is not suitable for ABS statistical needs, the statistical unit used is the Type of Activity Unit (TAU). A TAU is comprised of one or more business entities, sub-entities or branches of a business entity within an Enterprise Group that can report production and employment data for similar economic activities. When a minimum set of data items is available, a TAU is created which covers all the operations within an industry subdivision (and the TAU is classified to the relevant subdivision of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC)). Where a business cannot supply adequate data for each industry, a TAU is formed which contains activity in more than one industry subdivision and the TAU is classified to the predominant ANZSIC subdivision. Further details about the ABS economic statistical units used in this survey, and in other ABS economic surveys (both sample surveys and censuses), can be found in Chapter 2 of the Standard Economic Sector Classifications of Australia (SESCA) 2008.

Survey methodology

The survey is based on a random sample of approximately 2,000 units stratified by industry and employment size. The final response rate was 55%. 

The survey sample is re-weighted to adjust for non-response and provide full population estimates.

Classification by industry

The Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) has been developed for use in both countries for the production and analysis of industry statistics. For more information, users are referred to Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006.

Reliability of the estimates

When interpreting these results, please note that there may be systematic bias in these estimates that statistical procedures would not correct. In particular, estimates may be subject to non-response bias.

Questionnaire

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1(a) Is this business currently trading?
 ☐ Yes [Go to Q2]
 ☐ No [Go to Q1b]
  
 (b) Is the halt in business trading a result of COVID-19? 
 ☐ Yes [Go to Q2]
 ☐ No [Go to comments]
  
2Does this business employ any staff?
 [NOTE: This includes all employees on the books and not currently working]
 ☐ Yes
 ☐ No
  
 [NOTE: Businesses are not required to check records for the following questions]
3(a) Over the past month, has revenue increased, decreased or stayed the same?
 [NOTE: Revenue refers to income generated from the sale of goods or services]
 ☐ Increased
 ☐ Decreased
 ☐ Stayed the same
 ☐ Don't know
  
 (b) And over the next month, do you expect revenue will increase, decrease or stay the same?
 [NOTE: Revenue refers to income generated from the sale of goods or services]
 ☐ Increase
 ☐ Decrease
 ☐ Stay the same
 ☐ Don't know
  
 (c) Over the past month, have operating expenses increased, decreased or stayed the same? 
 [NOTE: Operating expenses refers to expenses incurred in undertaking normal business operating activities. Examples include payroll, rent, inventory cost, marketing and insurance]
 ☐ Increased
 ☐ Decreased
 ☐ Stayed the same
 ☐ Don't know
  
 (d) And over the next month, do you expect operating expenses will increase, decrease or stay the same?
 [NOTE: Operating expenses refers to expenses incurred in undertaking normal business operating activities. Examples include payroll, rent, inventory cost, marketing and insurance]
 ☐ Increase
 ☐ Decrease
 ☐ Stay the same
 ☐ Don't know
  
 (e) Over the past month, have the number of employees increased, decreased or stayed the same?
 ☐ Increased
 ☐ Decreased
 ☐ Stayed the same
 ☐ Don't know
  
 (f) And over the next month, do you expect the number of employees will increase, decrease or stay the same? 
 ☐ Increase
 ☐ Decrease
 ☐ Stay the same
 ☐ Don't know
  
4(a) Based on the business’s current level of revenue and expenditure, how would you describe the current availability of cash on hand for this business? 
 [NOTE: Cash on hand includes savings, assets that can easily be sold, and unused credit facilities]
 Currently, cash on hand should cover:
 ☐ Less than 1 month of business operations
 ☐ 1 to less than 3 months 
 ☐ 3 to less than 6 months 
 ☐ 6 months or more 
 ☐ Don’t know 
  
 (b) Compared to what is usual for this time of year, is the business’ current cash on hand?
 [NOTE: Cash on hand includes savings, assets that can easily be sold, and unused credit facilities]
 ☐ Higher than what is usual for this time of year 
 ☐ The same as what is usual for this time of year
 ☐ Lower than what is usual for this time of year 
 ☐ Don’t know 
  
 NOTE: Questions 5 and 6 are to be answered by employing businesses only (i.e. those that selected 'Yes' to Question 2). Those responding ‘No’ to Question 2 go to Question 7
5(a) Based on current operations, does the business have a sufficient number of employees?
 ☐ Yes [Go to Q6a]
 ☐ No [Go to Q5b]
 ☐ Don’t know [Go to Q6a]
  
 (b) You indicated the business does not have a sufficient number of employees. Are any of the following factors influencing how many staff this business currently has? (select all that apply)
 ☐ Availability of existing employees to work
 ☐ Inability to find suitable staff
 ☐ Difficulty retaining staff
 ☐ International border closures (e.g. can’t get staff from overseas)
 ☐ Domestic border closures (e.g. can’t get staff from interstate)
 ☐ Affordability of additional staff 
 ☐ Uncertainty due to COVID-19
 ☐ Are there any other factors that are influencing how many staff this business has?
  
6(a) Are any of your existing employees currently unavailable due to factors related to COVID-19? 
 ☐ Yes [Go to Q6b]
 ☐ No [Go to Q7a]
 ☐ Don’t know [Go to Q7a]
  
 b) You indicated that availability of employees is affected by factors related to COVID-19. Are any of the following reasons affecting employee availability? (select all that apply)
 ☐ Staff have COVID 19 symptoms or illness 
 ☐ Self isolation or quarantine requirements 
 ☐ Pending COVID-19 test results 
 ☐ Caring responsibilities (For example: caring for others who are unwell or caring for children due to school or daycare closures) 
 ☐ Staff have indicated an unwillingness to work due to concerns over catching COVID 
 ☐ Any other reasons (please specify)
  
 (c) You indicated that availability of workers is affected by COVID-19. What proportion of your workforce are currently impacted by COVID-19 and unable to work? 
 ☐ Less than 25 per cent 
 ☐ 25 to less than 50 per cent
 ☐ 50 to less than 75 per cent
 ☐ 75 to 100 per cent 
 ☐ Don’t know
  
7(a) Is the business currently experiencing any supply chain disruptions? A supply chain is a logistics network between a business and its suppliers to produce and distribute a product to the customer. A supply chain disruption is an interruption to that network. 
 ☐ Yes [Go to Q7b]
 ☐ No [Go to Comments]
 ☐ Don't know [Go to comments]
  
 (b) You indicated the business is currently experiencing supply chain disruptions. To what extent are the supply chain disruptions affecting this business? (select one option only)
 ☐ Not at all 
 ☐ A small extent (e.g. some delays but little impact on revenue) 
 ☐ A great extent (e.g. major delays/cannot obtain certain items and significant impact on revenue) 
 ☐ Don’t know
  
 (c) Has the business made any of the following modifications in response to supply chain disruptions? (Choose 'Yes', 'no' or 'don't know' for each option)
 ☐ Changed suppliers 
 ☐ Increased number of suppliers  
 ☐ Changed modes of freight  
 ☐ Changed ordering processes (e.g. ordering earlier or ordering more) 
 ☐ Changed operational processes (e.g. changed methods of producing goods or services)  
 ☐ Changed the types and range of products and services offered by the business 
 ☐ Changed the way products or services are provided to customers (e.g. adjusted customer allocations, adjusted order processing timeframe, shifted more operations online) 
 ☐ Increased price of goods or services 
 ☐ Has the business made any other modifications in response to supply chain disruptions?