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Business Indicators, Business Impacts of COVID-19 methodology, October 2020

Reference period
October 2020
Released
22/10/2020

Explanatory notes

Introduction

This publication provides insights into the conditions and sentiments of Australian businesses. This is the ninth release of data from the survey. 

This release forms part of a suite of additional products that the ABS is producing to measure 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 9 October and 15 October 2020.

Scope and coverage

The COVID-19 Business Indicators 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 63% (1,267 responding businesses). 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 of the prevalence of adversely affected businesses may be an underestimate if businesses have typically not responded because they have been adversely affected by COVID-19.

Technical note - Questionnaire

 
  
1(a) Is your business currently trading?
 ☐  Yes [Go to Question 2]
 ☐  No [Go to Question 1b]
  
 (b) Is the business not trading a result of COVID-19?
 ☐  Yes
 ☐  No [End of survey]
  
2Does this business employ any staff?
 [NOTE: This includes all employees on the books and not currently working]
 ☐  Yes
 ☐  No
  
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
  
4Based on current trading conditions, what is your best estimate of the length of time that this business’s operations could be sustained by its currently available cash on hand?
 ☐  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
  
5(a) Over the past 6 months, has the business sought additional funds for any purpose?
 [NOTE: Includes funds sought from banks or other financial institutions, owners’ personal line of credit or savings (e.g. redraw facility on an existing loan), owners’ family or friends, and other businesses]
 ☐  Yes [Go to Question 5c]
 ☐  No [Go to Question 5b]
 ☐  Don't know
  
 (b) You indicated the business has not sought additional funds for any purpose. Is that because the business….?
 ☐  Had sufficient funds
 ☐  Had no capital expenditure requirements (e.g. expenditure on assets such as vehicles, machinery, technology and equipment, buildings and other structures)
 [NOTE: Capital expenditure refers to acquisition of new or used assets]
 ☐  Had no other investment requirements
 ☐  Did not want to increase debt
 ☐  Could not meet debt repayments
 ☐  Expects it may not be successful in obtaining additional funds
 ☐  Are there any other reasons the business has not sought additional funds for any purpose?
  
 (c) What were the purposes of the funding?
 [NOTE: There may be multiple applications for finance and some of these reasons may apply]
 ☐  To cover business operating expenses
 ☐  Capital expenditure (expenditure on assets such as vehicles, machinery, technology and equipment, buildings and other structures)
 [NOTE: Capital expenditure refers to acquisition of new or used assets]
 ☐  Other investments
 ☐  Were there any other purposes for the funding?
  
6(a) Is the business currently accessing a loan repayment deferral for any of its loans?
 [NOTE: Can include personal loan deferrals]
 ☐  Yes [Go to Question 6b]
 ☐  No
 ☐  Don't know
  
 (b) What was the main reason the business decided to defer repayments for any of its loans?
 [NOTE: responses were interviewer coded]