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Data & Insights 2 min read

December XSBI results show small business jobs are resilient

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Rachael Powell

Jan 28, 2021

As we look ahead to a new year, our Xero Small Business Insights (XSBI) data for December, released today, shows that the economic landscape in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom continues to be dominated by COVID-19.

Our data, released monthly since April 2020, has tracked the impact of COVID-19 on the small business economy. As we take stock of its economic impacts in 2020, it’s clear that the countries that were more successful in containing the virus ended the year in the most positive economic position.

Revenues reflect subdued holiday period

The holiday period was more subdued than previous years across all three countries, which was reflected in lower retail and hospitality spending across the board.

The UK saw a 10% decrease year-on-year on retail spending, but the UK’s hospitality industry was especially hard-hit, with many outlets only able to offer takeaway. This was reflected in a 52% year-on-year decrease on revenues in the hospitality industry.

In Australia, spending in the retail and hospitality sectors was also subdued, down 5% and 17% year-on-year respectively. And while New Zealand’s overall economic position is more positive, the country’s small businesses still experienced a year-on-year revenue drop of 2% in retail spending and 14% in hospitality spending.

Jobs steady in UK, continue to recover in Australia and New Zealand

The UK’s furlough scheme continues to prop up small business jobs, which were unchanged in December, while jobs recovery continued in Australia (up 1.9% year-on-year) and New Zealand (up 2.8% year-on-year).

December’s key findings

In New Zealand, small business revenue is up 1.4% year-on-year, and has now had seven months of positive growth. Small business jobs rose 2.8% in the month and are now 6.4% higher than they were pre-crisis. The largest gains since March have been seen in manufacturing (+16.9%), retail trade (+13.4%) and rental, hiring & real estate (+11.1%). Only hospitality (-4.9%) still has fewer jobs than it did pre-crisis.

Small business revenue in Australia fell 2.7% year-on-year in December, ending six consecutive months of positive growth. Small business jobs continued to grow, up 1.9% in the month, and are now 3.0% above pre-crisis.

In the UK, small business revenue fell 10.3% in the year to December. This is the largest negative result since the peak of the economic crisis in May (-23.2% year-on-year). Small business jobs were unchanged in December although jobs are still 3.8% below pre-crisis levels.

Read more about our monthly metrics for December on the XSBI webpage.

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