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As restrictions ease, small businesses breathe a sigh of relief

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Rachael Powell

Oct 27, 2020

As some of the toughest lockdown restrictions start to lift in my home town of Melbourne, we are hopeful that we’ll soon see a return to some version of our normal lives. This of course includes a reopening of the many small businesses that support our communities across Victoria. Just how have the local hairdresser, book shop, cafe and mechanic fared during this time? All these businesses are a vital part of our communities, and life would not be the same without them.

We are not alone in Melbourne. Small business is a critical part of communities across the globe and at Xero we are committed to doing what we can to help the recovery, including releasing the latest metrics from our Xero Small Business Insights (XSBI) program. It feels like we are releasing our September data at an important junction in the pandemic. While some places are seeing cases decrease significantly or have seemingly eradicated the virus, others are seeing second and even third waves. This reflects in our XSBI data as we see metrics in some regions being positively impacted with the end of lockdowns, whereas other regions are unfortunately seeing less improvement. While some industries have started to show recovery, others are still severely impacted. 

It’s been six months since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold and there have been a lot of lessons learned. What our data appears to demonstrate is that once the health crisis is under control, it’s possible for small businesses to recover to near pre-crisis growth rates and in fact, some industries have been able to exceed these rates by adapting to consumer buying behaviours. We can also see that government support packages have been widely adopted by small businesses.

September’s key findings

New Zealand and Australian small businesses both recorded revenue and job gains.

New Zealand’s small business revenues grew 3.4% year-on-year and jobs rose just under 1%. 

In Australia, small business revenues grew 5.2% and jobs by almost 1%. In Victoria, where lockdowns continued in September, we saw a 0.4% year-on-year revenue rise, which was a significant turnaround from the 6% year-on-year decline recorded in August. However, due to the tough restrictions Victoria has been under, it is still lagging the rest of the country by five percentage points. Jobs in Victoria also saw a rise by 0.9% but it is important to note that they are still lower by 10.9% than they were pre-pandemic. 

In the United Kingdom, while revenues haven’t substantially recovered, the manufacturing industry has grown 4% year-on-year, which is an encouraging sign. 

With many support packages changing as we move into different phases of the pandemic, we will continue to analyse the small business sector – highlighting the latest findings and trends from our anonymised and aggregated data in the hope of influencing government policymakers and shining a light on the issues and obstacles that face small businesses globally. 

Read more about our monthly metrics for September in our XSBI updates:

  • Global data here
  • Australia data here
  • New Zealand data here
  • United Kingdom data here

You can also visit the XSBI page here. 

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