Amex: 80% of small businesses confident about surviving COVID-19 but unsure for how long

By Katherine O'Chee ·

A whopping 80% of Aussie small business owners have high hopes their enterprise will get through the worst of COVID-19, according to new research from American Express. 

But it’s optimism tempered with fear. Amex’s Small Business Recovery report, released today, also found 52% of respondents were concerned their sales won’t bounce back strongly enough for survival in the long run. 

For one, even as social distancing restrictions ease across the nation, many Aussies still don’t consider in-person shopping trips an option. 

The report revealed a staggering 52% of consumers are worried about their safety while shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. Only one-third said they feel comfortable returning to physical outlets. 

These findings are based on surveys with 750 consumers and 500 small business owners.

Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell said consumers have a big part to play in helping local businesses in need. 

“While it’s encouraging to see so many small businesses confident they can survive this crisis, they will face enormous challenges over the coming months as they work to get back on their feet,” she said.

“What small businesses need right now is our support. The best way to do that is by visiting your local small business or shopping online for local products and services.” 

The research comes as Amex Australia launches its Shop Small campaign early to encourage its customers to support SMEs doing it tough. The campaign rewards Amex credit cardholders with a cashback if they spend $10 or more at participating small businesses.

“As the nation takes important steps on the road to recovery and more businesses reopen, we’re encouraging all Australians to recognise the critical role they play in helping the businesses at the heart of our local communities by Shopping Small,” Amex Australia’s managing director, Corrina Davison said. 

Quick tips for small business recovery

However, there are a few steps that small businesses themselves can take to stay afloat and boost their sales: 

  • Communicate to customers: 80% of shoppers in Amex’s research said extra measures like hand sanitisers and distance markers would help them feel safer in-store. So as your business reopens its doors, it’s worth not only investing in these measures, but also updating your customers (via social media, email or website) on the steps you’ve taken to create a COVID-safe environment for them.
  • Take a step back: With restrictions being lifted, it’s time to ask what that means for your business. Consider how customer demand will change post-COVID: which products do you expect to sell better, and which ones won’t be as relevant, now that the nation has come out of ‘hibernation’? To help you map out your revenue and expenses, try building a cashflow forecast.
  • Tackle any extra expenses: Whether it’s a coffee machine for your cafe or cleaning services for your office, chances are you’ll have new costs to take on as you kickstart operations again. Should you find yourself in need of extra finance, a business loan could give you a boost. The good news is, the government’s SME Loan Guarantee Scheme is still in place until September 30. Under this scheme, the government guarantees 50% of new unsecured business loans issued by participating lenders to SMEs. 

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Katherine O'Chee
Money writer

Katherine O’Chee is Mozo’s international money transfer and forex expert and business banking writer. She keeps Mozo’s readers on top of the latest news and writes in-depth features to inform and help Australians make smarter financial decisions. Her work has been published in major media outlets including Sydney Morning Herald, SBS News and Bangkok Post. She has a Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communications) from the University of Sydney. She is also ASIC RG146 (Tier 2) certified for general advice.