Aussie businesses struggle as NZ bounces back after COVID-19 eradication

Aussie businesses

Aussie businesses are recovering from the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, but continue to struggle as authorities ratchet up border and trading restrictions along the east coast to curb new outbreaks.

Meanwhile, businesses in New Zealand are enjoying a much faster bounce back after the country eradicated the virus in June.

That’s according to accounting platform Xero, which today published aggregated revenue data from more than 100,000 small business subscribers over the course of the coronavirus crisis in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

The figures reveal stark differences in the fortunes of businesses across the three countries, underscoring how divergent public health strategies may have drastically altered outcomes for each economy.

While revenue loss bottomed at 10% for Aussie businesses in April compared to a 39% decline for New Zealand companies, those across the Tasman have since seen sales pick up much more substantially as Australia continues to battle the virus.

By mid-June, businesses in New Zealand were tracking around the same rate they were last year, while Australian companies continue to experience revenue levels 8% below those recorded in 2019.

In the United Kingdom, small businesses saw revenue fall 29% in May and 18% in June, compared to last year.

Businesses in the United Kingdom, which was hit harder by the virus, experienced a recovery in revenue from May to June, while Australia experienced a slight fall as restrictions to curb infection rates continue to weigh on companies in both countries.

Australia, which continues to pursue a suppression strategy for the virus, is set to fall into a recession in September as Treasury forecasts the headline unemployment rate to peak at 9.25% over the December quarter.

Businesses in the arts, hospitality and tourism sectors continue to experience year-on-year revenue declines as authorities ratchet up border restrictions and Victoria continues to struggle with its second stay-at-home order.

“Hospitality and arts and recreation have shown some improvement from the disappointing results in April, but revenue remains 22% and 31% lower than a year ago respectively,” Xero Australia managing director Trent Innes said in a statement.

However, Xero’s data indicates Aussie businesses started rehiring in June. After jobs across the sample fell 12.1% between mid-March and mid-May there was a recovery of sorts, with jobs down 68% in June.

Although here again New Zealand is performing better, with the country’s wage subsidy program suppressing job losses to 4.6% in the early months of the pandemic, having since improved to a 3.6% loss in June.

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