COVID-19 expected to hit 86pc of business: ABS
Matthew Cranston

The COVID-19 crisis is expected to hit 86 per cent of all businesses in Australia in coming months and 96 per cent of accommodation and food services according to official statistics.

In a survey of 3000 businesses by the Australian Bureau of Statistics conducted between March 16 and March 23, almost half of businesses said they had already experienced an adverse impact as a result of the virus.

However on March 23 tougher restrictions were announced on people movements and further restrictions have since been applied, which is only going to heighten the level of damage to trade.

Key among the findings was the lack of demand for business with 82 per cent reporting a drop while 81 per cent of businesses said further drop in demand would be the biggest impact coming months.

Surprisingly, 36 per cent of businesses had experienced staff shortages and 59 per cent expected to experience staff shortages in coming months. Significant job cuts and stand downs across several sectors have since been announced.

The ABS data showed that 78 per cent of accommodation and food services reported that they had experienced adverse business impacts in the previous two weeks and 96 per cent anticipated impacts over the coming months.

By contrast, businesses in professional, scientific and technical services reported an adverse impact, while 34 per cent of electricity, gas and water supply businesses had experienced impacts.

Businesses in mining were the least likely to have been adversely impacted by COVID-19 in the previous two weeks.

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Matthew Cranston is The Australian Financial Review’s economics correspondent, based in the Canberra bureau. He was previously property editor. Connect with Matthew on Twitter. Email Matthew at mcranston@afr.com

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