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Business Conditions and Sentiments methodology

Reference period
March 2022
Released
31/03/2022

Explanatory notes

Introduction

This publication provides insights into the conditions and sentiments of Australian businesses.  

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 16 and 23 March 2022.

Large scale floods occurred in Queensland and New South Wales in late February and early March. Survey participation was impacted in areas that remained affected during the data collection period.  The ABS has undertaken quality assurance measures to ensure this has not affected data quality in this release.

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 59%. 

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 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) Over the past 3 months, how difficult or easy will it be for this business to meet its financial commitments? Will it be…
 [NOTE: Financial commitments include any debts or regular payments that must be made by the business]
 ☐ Very difficult
 ☐ Difficult
 ☐ Neither difficult nor easy
 ☐ Easy
 ☐ Very easy
 ☐ Not applicable as my business does not have any financial commitments over the next three months
 ☐ Don't know
  
 For options 1-5: You said it will be [insert word sub from Q4 responses ‘very difficult, difficult, neither difficult nor easy, easy, very easy’] for this business to meet its financial commitments over the next 3 months. Can you provide any further information about this?
  
5(a) Over the next 3 months, how do you expect the price of goods or services sold by this business to change? Do you expect the prices will…
 ☐ Increase more than normal [Go to Q5b] 
 ☐ Remain unchanged [Go to Q6a] 
 ☐ Decrease more than normal [Go to Q6a] 
 ☐ Don't know [Go to Q6a] 
  
 (b) You indicated that over the next 3 months you expect the price of goods or services sold by this business to increase more than normal. Is this due to any of the following factors?
 ☐ Increase in staff wages or salaries (including overtime)
 ☐ Increase in other staff related costs 
 ☐ Increase in the cost of products or services used by this business 
 ☐ Increase in the cost of fuel and / or energy 
 ☐ Increase in other business overheads 
 ☐ Increased customer demand 
 ☐ Are there any other factors contributing to expected price increases of goods or services sold by this business?  (please specify)
  
 NOTE: Question 6 is to be answered by employing businesses only (i.e. those that selected 'Yes' to Question 2). Those responding ‘No’ to Q2 to be sequenced to Q7.
6(a) Are any of your existing employees currently unavailable due to factors related to COVID-19? 
 [NOTE: Factors might include staff that have/think they have COVID-19, staff that are a close contact and isolating, or staff that don’t want to come into work for fear of contracting 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)
  
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) Have any of the following factors impacted this business’ supply chain?
 ☐ Existing suppliers unable to provide products (supply constraints)
 ☐ Unable to source or substitute alternate suppliers for products 
 ☐ Increased prices (including cost of transport)
 ☐ Increased time to receive products from suppliers (i.e.. domestic and international delivery delays) 
 ☐ Any other factors?