Of the 997 businesses surveyed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in July, 47 per cent reported that revenue had decreased in the previous month.
Looking ahead, 49 per cent expected revenue to remain at the same depressed levels, while a further 27 per cent expected revenue to decrease further.
According to the ABS, many businesses commented that their expected revenue and operating expenses were heavily dependent on whether government regulations would be changing again or staying the same, specifically those regarding social distancing and travel.
In the time since the survey was conducted, the Victorian government has moved to impose a stage 4 lockdown on metropolitan Melbourne, while the Queensland government has announced it will now shut its borders to all of New South Wales and the ACT from 8 August.
Relying on support measures
More than two in five businesses reported that they were currently accessing available business support measures such as JobKeeper, deferring loan repayments or renegotiating rent or lease arrangements.
The cash-flow boost measure of up to $100,000 has also been accessed by 54 per cent of all businesses.
In a grim sign of things to come, one in 10 businesses said they would seek to close their business once the support measures were no longer available.
The most likely action would be to defer or cancel investment plans, with 16 per cent indicating so, while 13 per cent said they would reduce the size of their workforce.
While the government has announced an extension of the JobKeeper scheme to 28 March 2021, businesses will have to retest their eligibility using a tighter turnover test.
However, in light of the current Victorian conditions, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has noted that the government will consider tweaking the JobKeeper 2.0 eligibility test so as not to disadvantage businesses badly hit by the new restrictions.
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.