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Tightening and easing health restrictions continue to impact small business – XSBI August data release

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Rachael Powell

Sep 28, 2020

As we tentatively look ahead to the end of lockdowns in my home city of Melbourne in the not too distant future, it is encouraging to learn that small business looked a little more stable last month in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Today, we released our monthly Xero Small Business Insights (XSBI) data for August. These are monthly metrics showing analysis of the small business sector’s health, based on anonymised, aggregated data drawn from hundreds of thousands of our subscribers.

Since the start of COVID-19 and even before, we’ve been using these rich insights to brief government leaders and policy makers in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. Our in-depth look at the impact of the pandemic on small business was released at Xero on Air earlier this month.

We’re continuing to analyse the small business sector each month, paying particular attention to the impact of tightening and easing health restrictions, which has been a common theme of the program since the start of this pandemic.

Some of the key findings of the August data are as follows:

In New Zealand, year-on-year business revenue growth was little changed, however jobs were down 1.4% on July figures. The impact of Auckland moving to alert level 3 certainly impacted results, but restrictions on businesses were not as widespread as they were in Victoria.

Australia was and will likely continue to be impacted by Victoria’s lockdown, which will remain a drag on the national economy for a few months yet. Like New Zealand, year-on-year revenue growth was stable but unlike New Zealand, jobs figures were also stable, though not fully recovered to pre-crisis levels.

In the United Kingdom, revenues haven’t substantially recovered from the initial shock in May, and have been around 13% lower than a year ago for the past three months. Likewise, small business jobs have stagnated at 6.7% down on pre-crisis levels.

We know that the situation is rapidly changing, with lockdowns lifting in some regions, and risks emerging in the UK with winter approaching and case numbers rising again. We’ll continue to give our small business customers a voice each month by putting this data in front of government policymakers to ensure they are represented.

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