Tuesday, 25 February 2020 22:32

Coronavirus affects one in six Australian businesses Featured

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One in six Australian businesses are affected by the coronavirus outbreak, with the Government decision stopping all direct commercial flights to China already striking several industries, according to newly published research.

The new threat to business comes after over a quarter of Australian businesses (28%) said they have been affected by the extensive bushfires over the last few months according to a special Roy Morgan Snap SMS Survey of 1,170 Australian businesses.

Around two-fifths of manufacturers are already reporting being affected, closely followed by a third of Education & training businesses and those in the wholesale industry.

According to Roy Morgan Research, other industries to already be feeling the effects of the coronavirus include accommodation & food services which includes travel and tourism businesses, community services, administrative & support services and property and business services.

Respondents to the survey described in their own words the impact the coronavirus was already having and these responses fell into a few broad categories including the issue of workers, or students, being quarantined and kept away from work/study; the impact on supply lines for the import or export of goods and parts to and from China; the decline in forward bookings from Chinese tourists and cancellations by customers in Asia as well as the general hit to confidence which includes a weaker stock-market as well as lower foot traffic in stores due to a combination of the aforementioned.

The issue of quarantine was raised by many businesses:

  • ‘Staff unable to come to work’
  • ‘We have workers that are in isolation to recover from potential exposure to the virus’
  • ‘We have a possible case of exposure to deal with’
  • ‘Staff are away from work because of the possibility of infection’
  • 1 person at our work is under 14 day quarantine at home’
  • Workers on quarantine leave!’
  • ‘Our Asian clients are asking about provisions for working at home’
  • “We have enforced staff absence from office due to recent travel to the areas in question’
  • ‘Some factories – here in Australia – are at half capacity due to workers in quarantine’
  • ‘People are quarantined in China and can’t return here’
  • ‘Our staff in China are all working from home’
  • ‘There are many students unable to return due to travel restrictions and quarantine periods’
  • ‘Many Chinese students are unable to return to their studies in Australia’“Students from China can’t return and are banned from travel to Australia’

According to Roy Morgan, the hit to supply lines runs both ways with importers hit the hardest as the flow of parts and goods from China is halted and products are delayed while at a lesser degree exporters are finding the markets in China are closed for their goods:

  • ‘We have new equipment stuck in China’
  • ‘There’s already been some delay to the arrival of some supplies’
  • ‘Production of some of our products are in China so there have been delays in manufacturing and delivery’
  • Less business due to material imports from China’
  • ‘Our staff have had some concerns unloading containers from China’
  • ‘Imported goods are being held up’
  • ‘I import from China so many of my factories have been closed for longer than usual making it hard to keep stock up’
  • ‘There are definite delays in obtaining orders from factories in China’
  • ‘We’ve had problems receiving stock from China’
  • ‘Access to stock has been hit’
  • ‘Production delays from Chinese manufacturing plants will impact future deliveries’
  • ‘Factories in China are still closed and our product isn’t being made’
  • ‘Getting stock out of China has been delayed’
  • ‘Stock isn’t leaving China’
  • ‘Delays with shipments from China’
  • ‘Wool exports to China have dropped off a bit’
  • ‘Commodity prices have fallen’
  • ‘Loss of export market to China’

The research company says that other impacts felt relate to a decline in forward tourism bookings, and cancellations by Asian customers, as well as the hit to general confidence and the stock-market and all of the above factors are driving lower foot traffic at retail outlets.

According to Roy Morgan, a deeper analysis of the industries most heavily impacted by the bushfires/floods shows that over 40% of businesses in the accommodation and food services sector, which includes travel and tourism, say they have been affected either ‘A great deal’ or ‘Somewhat’.

And around a third of businesses in the retail and property & business services industries have been affected while there have also been disproportionately large impacts on manufacturing, transport, postal and warehousing, public administration & defence, education & training and recreation & personal.

The survey also found that businesses in the east coast States of Victoria (39%), NSW (31%) and Queensland (23%) have been the most heavily affected by the bushfires/floods - and in contrast only 14% of businesses in Tasmania and 11% of businesses in both South Australia and Western Australia have been affected at all.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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