Many small businesses in Australia and New Zealand felt that this year had been more disruptive than the last, according to a new report.
Financial advisor Findex surveyed over 500 businesses and found that one-third had been “significantly impacted” by COVID-19 restrictions this year, up from one-quarter in 2020.
Business confidence for the year ahead also dropped, with 40 percent feeling confident about the future, down from 52 percent in 2020. However, two-thirds of businesses are estimating that things will return to “normal” in six months.
Judith Treanor, the owner of online gifts and fashion boutique Temple and Markets, runs an annual pop-up shop for Christmas which usually brings in around 30 percent of her total yearly revenue.
However, Treanor said this Christmas trading season is looking to be the “worst in memory,” with a lot of her stock, typically consisting of summer apparel and accessories, sitting on the shelves as people are not looking to holiday or go out like before. Moreover, her outlook worsened with the emergence of Omicron, the newest variant of the CCP virus.
“[People] can’t even think straight about buying gifts—it’s like we’re all in some kind of collective PTSD post-lockdown,” she said.
Treanor notes that the check-in and mask requirements have also acted as barriers to selling in-person.
“Many just can’t be bothered with the hassle unless they’re shopping for essentials. The spontaneity and fun of a shopping spree is gone. It really puts people off popping in for a browse,” she said.
On the other hand, Elley Hudson, the director of Excellence Property, said for her businesses, this year had been less disruptive than the last, and she felt very confident heading into 2022.
“2020 forced us to create a system that identified which tenants were financially impacted by COVID-19 so that we could reach mutually agreeable solutions with their owners,” she said. “Things are going smoothly, and we’ve paid close attention to what property management experts have predicted. As a result, we feel like things have well and truly gone back to normal.”
Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Bruce Billson said small businesses were seeing patchwork recovery where some were thriving, while others, such as tourism and events businesses, had just begun their road to recovery.
“After an incredibly difficult 2 years marred by fires, floods, and a global pandemic, conditions are settling and that is allowing small business owners to get on with what they do best—running their business,” he told The Epoch Times.
Billson emphasised to small businesses that it was important to do a “resilience check.”
“The past two years have taught us that anything can happen,” he said. “January is a great time to take stock of your business. Consider how you can pivot or adapt your business when required.”