Small-business revenue recovering to pre-pandemic levels

The latest Xero Small Business Insights (XSBI) report reveals year-on-year small-business revenue growth of 5.1 per cent in February, a four per cent increase from January’s result. This result means revenue growth accelerated at a slightly higher rate in February than the pre-COVID average of 4.6 per cent.

The report, complied by Xero in collaboration with Accenture, also reveals that small-business jobs also rebounded following the usual summer seasonal drop, increasing by 0.5 per cent. This means jobs in small business are now 1.6 per cent above where they were in the first week of March 2020 when the pandemic began to impact the economy.

Despite the positive signs, challenges still remain. Arts and recreation, and hospitality continue to be the two weakest industries, both recording an eight per cent decline on year-on-year revenue in February. On the other hand, the rental, hiring and real estate industry experienced 15 per cent year-on-year growth, and manufacturing a 13 per cent rise.

“Pausing to reflect on it being one year since COVID-19 restrictions were first enforced, it is remarkable to see the Australian small business sector enter its ninth consecutive month of revenue growth,” Trent Innes, Xero’s Managing Director Australia and Asia, said. “The latest Xero Small Business Insights analysis reminds us of the resilience of the sector in the face of the pandemic – but that some industries have been more fortunate than others.

“As the JobKeeper program has drawn to a close, for industries including arts and recreation, hospitality and tourism, it will be critically important for Australians to get behind them in any way they can,” Innes added. “With Easter approaching, it’s another good excuse to support small business when you shop or travel.”

The report noted that revenue growth has been positive for nine consecutive months and in all but two of those months, it has been faster than the pre-crisis average. Even in Western Australia and Victoria, which experienced lockdowns in February, revenue still grew, albeit at a slower rate than elsewhere in the country. Jobs also rebounded in both states as soon as restrictions were eased again after their lockdowns and staff returned to work.

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