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Business Conditions and Sentiments

Insights into Australian business conditions and sentiments.

Reference period
April 2021
Released
30/04/2021

Key statistics

  • Three in ten (30%) businesses are experiencing supply chain disruptions.
  • 30% of businesses currently have staff teleworking, with 45% experiencing improved staff wellbeing as a benefit.
  • Nearly two thirds (64%) of businesses are being adversely impacted by COVID safe controls.

Results from the final two Business Conditions and Sentiments surveys will be released on May 27 and June 24. For further information, please see Changes to ABS statistical work program.

In responding to the survey, businesses are asked to provide a best estimate only, without accessing records or reports.

Business size categories used in this release:

  • Small (0-19 persons employed);
  • Medium (20-199 persons employed); and
  • Large (200 or more persons employed).

For information on survey sample, response rates and the questionnaire, see Methodology.

Changes in revenue and number of employees

Businesses reported on changes in revenue and number of employees over the last month and expected changes over the next month. This information has been collected each month since July 2020.

Less than one in five (18%) businesses reported decreased revenue in April. This is the lowest proportion of businesses reporting decreased revenue since this data was first collected.

 

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(a) Proportions are of all businesses
(b) Businesses reported changes over the last month

In April, 9% of businesses had an increase in the number of employees, while one in ten (10%) businesses expect an increase in the number of employees in May.

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(a) Proportions are of all businesses
(b) Businesses reported changes over the last month
(c) Expectations for the indicated month as reported by businesses in the previous month of collection

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.

Three in ten (30%) businesses are currently experiencing supply chain disruptions.  These businesses provided information on the extent to which they are being affected:

  • 37% were affected to a great extent (e.g. major delays / cannot obtain certain items and significant impact on revenue);
  • 57% were affected to a small extent (e.g. some delays but little impact on revenue); or
  • 3% were not affected at all.

Small businesses were more likely than medium and large businesses to report being affected by supply chain disruptions to a great extent (37% compared with 30% and 25%).

    Top industries experiencing supply chain disruptions

    Top industries experiencing supply chain disruptions

    Top industries experiencing supply chain disruptions

    The top industries experiencing supply chain disruptions:
    - Manufacturing (55% of all businesses, with 18% of these affected to a great extent)
    - Other services (54% of all businesses, with 27% of these affected to a great extent) (note that other services includes repair and maintenance, personal (e.g. hairdressers) and other services)
    - Retail trade (52% of all businesses, with 19% of these affected to a great extent)
    - Wholesale trade (50% of all businesses, with 60% of these affected to a great extent)

    The businesses experiencing supply chain disruptions also provided information on modifications made in response to those disruptions. Most of these businesses (87%) had made at least one modification.

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    Changes made by businesses in response to supply chain disruptions, by employment size (a)
     Small businessesMedium businessesLarge businessesAll businesses
     %%%%
    Changed ordering processes (b)63615562
    Changed the way products or services are provided to customers (c)41292741
    Changed suppliers39332139
    Changed type and range of products or services38272037
    Increased number of suppliers36343236
    Increased price of goods or services34241434
    Changed operational processes (d)32253432
    Changed mode of freight20181719
    Other modifications3694

    (a) Proportions are of businesses experiencing supply chain disruptions
    (b) e.g. ordering earlier or ordering more
    (c) e.g. adjusted customer allocations, adjusted order processing timeframe, shifted more operations online
    (d) e.g. changed methods of producing goods or services

      Changes to supplier in response to supply chain disruptions

      Changes to supplier in response to supply chain disruptions

      Changes to supplier in response to supply chain disruptions

      30% of all businesses experienced supply chain disruptions, and of these 39% changed their supplier in response.
      Of those businesses that changed supplier in response to supply chain disruptions:
      -63% changed to an alternative domestic supplier
      - 33% changed to an alternative overseas supplier
      - 24% changed from overseas to domestic supplier
      - 15% changed from domestic to overseas supplier

      Teleworking

      Employing businesses reported on their teleworking arrangements:

      • prior to COVID-19; 
      • in response to COVID-19;
      • currently; and
      • expected long term. 

       

      Teleworking prior to COVID-19 and in response to COVID-19

      By employment size, the proportion of employing businesses that reported they had staff teleworking prior to COVID-19 was:

      • Small businesses (20%);
      • Medium businesses (20%); and
      • Large businesses (47%).

       

        How COVID-19 changed business teleworking arrangements

        How COVID-19 changed business teleworking arrangements

        How COVID-19 changed business teleworking arrangements

        20% of employing businesses had staff teleworking prior to COVID-19, and 22% introduced teleworking in response to COVID-19.
        Of the employing businesses that had staff teleworking prior to COVID-19, 27% increased the proportion of staff teleworking and 33% increased the frequency of staff teleworking.

        Large businesses were twice as likely as small businesses to have introduced teleworking in response to COVID-19 (40% compared to 21%).

        Of those businesses that already had staff teleworking, large businesses were also more likely than small businesses to have:

        • Increased the proportion of staff teleworking (83% compared to 23%); and
        • Increased the frequency of staff teleworking (81% compared with 30%).

         

        Current teleworking arrangements

        Three in ten (30%) employing businesses reported that they had staff currently teleworking. This compares to 43% in September 2020.

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        Percentage of workforce currently teleworking, by employment size (a)(b)
         Small
        businesses
        Medium
        businesses
        Large
        businesses
        All
        businesses
        %%%%
        None70582569
        Less than 25 per cent9284111
        25 per cent to less than 50 per cent56165
        50 per cent to less than 75 per cent24102
        75 per cent to 100 per cent133512
        Don't know1141

        (a) Proportions are of employing businesses
        (b) The sum of the components may not equal 100% due to rounding

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        (a) Proportions are of employing businesses

        Long term teleworking arrangements

        Businesses with teleworking staff reported how they expected their teleworking arrangements to change in the long term. Of the 30% of businesses with staff currently teleworking, four in five (80%) expect to have staff teleworking long term.

        Businesses with staff currently teleworking expect these arrangements in the long term to:

        • Stay the same (60%);
        • Decrease, but still have some staff teleworking (19%);
        • Decrease, and have no staff teleworking (9%); and
        • Increase (1%).

        A further 11% were not sure about their long term teleworking arrangements.

        Benefits from teleworking

        About three in five (58%) teleworking businesses had experienced at least one benefit from their teleworking arrangements. Businesses that experienced improved staff wellbeing (45%), commented that teleworking arrangements had resulted in increased flexibility, improved work life balance and less travel time for staff.

          Benefits experienced by teleworking businesses (a)(b)

          Benefits experienced by teleworking businesses

          Benefits experienced by teleworking businesses (a)(b)

          Employing businesses with staff currently teleworking experienced the following benefits:
          - Improved staff wellbeing (45%);
          - Reduced overheads (27%);
          - Increased productivity (26%);
          - Improved staff retention (18%); and
          - Broader recruitment pool (6%).

          Large businesses were the most likely to have experienced benefits related to teleworking arrangements.

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          (a) Proportions are of employing businesses with staff currently teleworking
          (b) Businesses could select more than one response

          Extent of impact of COVID safe controls

          Businesses reported on the extent to which COVID safe controls were adversely impacting their business. Nearly two thirds (64%) of businesses reported that they were being adversely impacted by COVID safe controls. One in five (21%) are being impacted by these controls to a great extent.

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          (a) Proportions are of all businesses

          By employment size, the proportion of businesses that are being adversely impacted by COVID safe controls to any extent were:

          • Small businesses (63%);
          • Medium businesses (77%); and
          • Large businesses (84%).

           

            Top industries adversely impacted by COVID safe controls (a)(b)

            Top industries adversely impacted by COVID safe controls

            Top industries adversely impacted by COVID safe controls (a)(b)

            Top industries adversely impacted by COVID safe controls:
            - Additional cleaning and disinfecting requirements: Accommodation and food services (78%), Arts and recreation services (74%) and Health care and social assistance (62%)
            - Physical distancing of customers or clients and/or venue capacity limits: Education and training (61%), Accommodation and food services (61%) and Arts and recreation services (58%)
            - Providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to staff: Transport postal and warehousing (60%), Accommodation and food services (53%) and Administrative and support services (46%)
            - Physical distancing of employees : Education and training (38%), Transport postal and warehousing (30%) and Arts and recreation services (27%).

            Data downloads

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            Previous catalogue number

            This release previously used catalogue number 5676.0.55.003