02 Mar 2020

Two-thirds of Australian SMEs impacted by bushfires, NAB survey shows

Two-thirds of Australian SMEs have been directly or indirectly impacted by the recent bushfires, with business disruption, higher insurance and other costs and lower customer confidence cited as key factors keeping business owners awake at night.

More than 70 per cent of small businesses say the fires will continue impacting their business over the next three months, according to a new report released today by NAB.

NAB Chief Customer Officer Business and Private Banking Anthony Healy said the findings would help NAB continue to identify where it could best support customers as they rebuild.

“We know that many families and businesses face an uncertain future and we recognise the significant impact the fires have had on cashflow, loss of customers and supplier disruption,” Mr Healy said.

“Business owners have also shared the physical and mental health impact of the bushfires, including describing the unsettling effects of having to send employees home and sending customers away due to poor air quality.’

Owners of utility and wholesale trade businesses expect to be most affected over the next three months, at 81 per cent and 79 per cent respectively.

Approximately 75 per cent of both the transport and storage sector and agricultural businesses say they expect to be feeling the effects of the bushfires for at least 12 months.

In response to the devastating bushfires in late 2019 and 2020, NAB announced $1 billion in concessional loans at a reduced rate to support customers affected by natural disasters to rebuild their businesses. The NAB concessional loans includes support in restructuring existing facilities to assist in repairs, restocking or the re-opening for business.

“This funding builds on our existing disaster relief measures and addresses very specific needs identified by our customers that interest free or reduced rate loans are what helps most during this critical time,” Mr Healy said.

NAB has welcomed the Federal Government’s establishment of a National Bushfire Recovery Agency and the $2 billion Recovery Fund and has worked closely with the Agency and other partners to assist impacted communities over recent months.

“Regional businesses and agribusinesses are incredibly resilient and government and banks are working together to help them through this,” Mr Healy said.

“Our bankers will continue to visit businesses and regional communities over the coming weeks to assess requirements and provide support. We encourage all of our NAB customers to contact their local banker as we are ready to assist,” Mr Healy said.

NAB business and agribusiness customers wishing to access the concessional loans can contact their local banker or 13 10 12 (8am-5pm, Mon-Fri; 9am-1pm, Saturday – AEST/AEDT).

Key findings from Part 1 of the NAB SME Bushfire Impact Survey include:

  • 2 in 3 Australian SMEs indicate their businesses have been directly or indirectly impacted by the recent bushfires.
  • While bushfire conditions have now improved, 7 in 10 SMEs expect the bushfires to continue impacting their business over the next 3 months.
  • 1 in 2 small business owners said interest free or reduced rate loans would help most during this critical time.
  • The most common impacts for business in vulnerable bushfire areas include temporary disruption (55%),
  • insurance/higher costs (37%), lower customer confidence (31%) and disruption to travel (31%).

The survey can be read here.

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