Almost three-quarters of Aussie businesses fear reduced cashflow over the next two months as fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the economy, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
The ABS published the latest edition of its coronavirus business impact survey on Monday, revealing widespread feelings of uncertainty in the last full week of April.
While 72% of firms expect cashflow to reduce heading into July, a further 69% of the 2,014 firms surveyed said they’re anticipating reduced demand for goods and services.
The figures come as the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) prepares to this week start payments for the Morrison government’s $130 billion JobKeeper program.
The survey finds about 60% of SMEs have either signed up for JobKeeper or intend to, with ABS’ head of industry statistics John Shepherd saying only 8% of small businesses will give the scheme a miss because they can’t afford to pay staff.
“Of those businesses registered or intending to register, 73% expected more than half of their employees to the eligible for the scheme,” said in a statement circulated Monday.
“The survey also found that of the businesses that did not intend to register for the JobKeeper Payment scheme, 55% reported that it was because the business was not eligible.
“Less than one in ten (7%) reported not registering due to insufficient cashflow to continue paying staff before JobKeeper payments commence,” he said.
The survey, one of several new reporting areas the ABS has opened up in response to the pandemic, provides insight into how firms are coping with the economic consequences of Australia’s trading restrictions and stay-at-home orders.
Canvassing businesses operating in 16 major industries, the ABS finds sentiment across retail, food services and accommodation have been hit particularly hard. A total 88% of accommodation and food services firms anticipate reduced cashflow, while 59% of retailers say they’re experiencing supply chain uncertainty.
The report has been compiled from a sample usually taken to measure capital expenditure across the private sector.
Preliminary figures published alongside the survey on Monday suggest 16% of businesses revised down their 2020-21 capital expenditure plans between December and March, up from an average of 11% over the last five years.
Businesses which revised their expenditure reported a reduced ability to pay operating expenses (54%), decreased cashflow (72%) and reduced access to credit or additional funds (25%).
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