To say 2020 was a challenging year, and the pandemic had an existential impact on Australian small businesses would be the biggest of understatements. Doors were closed temporarily or permanently, employers were forced to lay off hard-working employees, and people did whatever they could to keep the lights on.
While far from unscathed, Australia’s strong public health response has meant we’ve been able to avoid drawn-out lockdowns and as a result, business confidence is returning and sales are rebounding. Last year we launched the first Global State of Small Business Report to uncover the ongoing effects of the pandemic on businesses and saw a grim picture. But thankfully, the latest report findings show the reason for optimism about the future.
Australians lead in confidence
Australian businesses are more confident than every other surveyed region, with 79 percent of Australian SMBs confident in their ability to stay open over the next six months. Nearly a third (24 percent) is higher than the global average. That confidence correlates to Australia’s management of COVID-19, enabling businesses to stay open, when many across the world experienced tougher and longer lockdown measures. This saw local businesses fare better than most other regions, with less than half (42 percent) of Australian SMBs this year reporting lower sales than the same period last year. In contrast, the global average was 13 percent higher, indicating that Australian SMBs are rebounding quicker than their international counterparts.
Last year businesses were required to accelerate their digitisation or risk complete closure. In the face of adversity, businesses created digital storefronts, gyms live-streamed workouts, restaurants became food delivery services, and almost everyone had to find new ways to reach customers who were locked down at home, no matter where they were around the country or world.