Western Australian businesses are fighting back against the brutal impact of COVID-19, with 84 per cent adapting to the crisis in some manner.
Over 800 businesses have so far participated in the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCIWA) Business Impact Survey, making it one of the extensive snapshots of WA businesses ever undertaken.
The results show that WA businesses are using all of their ingenuity to stay open and keep their workers, whether by pivoting to create new products (23 per cent), shifting to online services (34 per cent) or enabling home delivery for the first time (28 per cent). More than a quarter of WA businesses (26 per cent) are planning to make capital investments to support and develop these new capabilities. Businesses are also shifting to work-from-home (58 per cent), reducing working hours (56 per cent) or introducing more flexible shifts and duties for their employees.
But there’s no sugar-coating the challenge, especially for the many businesses whose practical options to adapt are limited.
Of those businesses expecting to shed jobs, nearly half (49 per cent) expected to lose between one and ten staff. Around 85 per cent of WA businesses are experiencing reductions in customer spending, with retail, accommodation, real estate, the arts and recreation sectors the hardest hit. About 40 per cent of businesses are experiencing difficulties getting parts and supplies from interstate and overseas. Skills shortages are expected in health care and social assistance, construction, mining, manufacturing and agriculture. While these sectors are still experiencing some demand, no business model is immune to the incremental closure of the economy. Of those seeking to adapt, many (67 per cent) businesses are worried about costly delays in obtaining the necessary regulatory approvals.
The only way the Government will sustainably drive its way out of the fiscal quagmire is by growing the economy, including by making us more competitive with the rest of the world. The good news is that governments have been highly receptive to consultation with CCIWA and the business community, with landmark support measures introduced to address the key concerns of WA businesses raised in this survey. We will continue to work closely with both levels of government to secure the best measures for the economy, building on JobKeeper, payroll tax cuts, fee relief and regulation exemptions, to shield WA jobs and safeguard businesses through this crisis.
A snapshot of the Business Impacts Survey results can be found here.
CCIWA Chief Economist