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New Ai Group report on business experiences under COVID-19

The national employer association Ai Group has today released the fourth in a series of monthly reports about Australia’s business experiences to date working and living under the impact of COVID-19, from March through to June of 2020.

Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox said: "The COVID-19 pandemic is having a severe impact on Australian businesses and communities in 2020 and there are few signs of this easing nationally for Australia.

"This report is the fourth in a series of monthly reports by Ai Group about Australia’s business experiences to date, from March through to June of 2020. Ai Group has provided assistance, information and advice to thousands of member businesses who have experienced the consequences of activity restrictions and the drop in business and consumer incomes and expenditure due to the global pandemic. As part of this process we have collected detailed feedback from Australian businesses about their experiences, through a range of sources including emails, surveys, web queries, phone calls and (remote) meetings. This report summarises the concerns, issues and factors these businesses have reported to Ai Group about the COVID-19 pandemic.

"There has been a change in the concerns and responses of business operators over this short period of time, but reduced customer demand remains the primary inhibitor for Australian businesses as of June. The initial reaction by business to the crisis in March focussed heavily on finding and sharing information, followed by a rapid period of shut-downs and shifts to remote work in April. The JobKeeper wage subsidy announcements in May quickly became a crucial support for all. In June, a stronger divergence in business outcomes and responses emerged across industries and states, in line with local easing of activity restrictions. This has meant an improvement for some businesses, while others (some of whom had experienced an uptick at the start of the pandemic in Australia), have seen the effects of panic-buying ease off.

"Further measures will be needed to stimulate business activity and employment over the coming months, with a particular focus on Melbourne and other locations where activity restrictions have been reimposed. Greater Melbourne alone accounts for over 20% of Australia’s national economic activity and jobs, and this renewed shut-down is having major flow-on effects elsewhere. A second period of restrictions nationally would mean that more businesses would be unable to maintain their employment levels and more businesses would not survive at all. We must not forget that this is primarily a health crisis which also needs a balanced approach to risk which includes economic and social impacts. Reducing the incidence and the impact of COVID-19 on all our communities is necessary before we can move towards a ‘new normal’. Until that can happen, the economy will require support, stimulus, infrastructure investment and a focus on employment,” Mr Willox said.

Ai Group Report

Media enquiries: Tony Melville – 0419 190 347