Cautious signs of recovery for SME market

After bearing the brunt of economic hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic, newly released research suggests the small-business sector is on its way to recovery.

Small-business insurer Bizcover’s COVID-19 SME Business Impact Index reveals signs of positive growth in the small-business sector despite previous forecasts that SME growth would decline by 10 per cent during the first half of 2020.

The company has been tracking the SME insurance market across key indices since February when the pandemic began. At the height the crisis, in the run-up to Easter, the index saw a level of cancellations at 83 per cent above BizCover’s normal rates. At that time they also reported enquiries and new business clients registrations at only 41 per cent and 53 per cent of their usual levels respectively.

When Australia flattened the COVID-19 curve after Easter, however, cancellations began to return to normal levels and enquiries and new business registrations experienced an uptick.

“New Business sales have improved dramatically from the lows of early April, and are now only three per cent below the February baseline,” BizCover CEO, Michael Gottlieb, said. “Enquiries are 11 per cent above pre-pandemic levels.”

Gottlieb added, “Personal trainers are a prime example of an industry springing back. The moment it was announced that trainers could run outdoor boot camps of up to 10 people, we saw the average number of daily enquiries by personal trainers increase 125 per cent over the average for the previous six weeks.

“Daily enquiries by personal trainers also increased to way above pre-COVID-19 averages, being 49 per cent above average number of daily enquiries for the first quarter of 2020.”

Gottlieb said it was even more encouraging that the figures indicated the “perseverance and industrious nature small businesses finding ways to keep trading.”

“It’s a testament to the Australian spirit that many have found the strength to adapt, move forward and rebuild their livelihoods after such a difficult period,” Gottlieb said.

“Many have found the silver lining in this economic and health crisis and used it to forge ahead as entrepreneurs in their own right.”

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