Recruitment and revenue prospects in 2021 have improved markedly
The gradual lifting of public health restriction means SMEs expect to see a definite upturn in turnover this year (balance of opinion at +24, up from -48 in November 2020). Recruitment plans show the same pattern, with the recruitment outlook up to +19 in mid-2021, the same level as before the crisis. The outlook seems most positive in Industry, while business owners in Tourism are, logically, the most pessimistic.
The cash flow situation for SMEs reported to be sound
Despite the significant impact of the crisis on business for SMEs, 63% of them report that their cash flow is sufficient to cope, once their use of support mechanisms is included (compared with 57% in April 2021 and 49% a year ago). The proportion is largest in Commerce and Industry (72% and 66%). Just 1% of business owners believe their cash flow difficulties are insurmountable, a lower figure than previously. This proportion is however 3% in Tourism and Transport.
State-guaranteed loans still very largely a financial reserve
Of those SMEs having taken out a loan, 57% say they have spent little of it (24%) or indeed none of it (33%). Almost two thirds of SMEs that received a loan plan to repay it in full over a number of years. 4% of the managing directors surveyed fear they will not be in a position to repay it, a lower proportion than in February (8%).
The anticipated upturn in business is pushing managing directors’ capital expenditure plans in the same direction
Businesses are making substantial increases to their investment plans for 2021. The indicator on the change in amounts invested has climbed significantly, up to 30 points in one year to stand at +4, above the figure for May 2019. More than half (58%) of the SMEs in Industry report they have either already invested or plan to invest this year, which is the largest proportion among the major sectors of the economy. This spending is directed partly towards digital transformation projects, with 56% of business owners intending to maintain or accelerate their strategy as the crisis comes to an end (up 3 points compared with November 2020).
Three quarters of SMEs should be back to pre crisis revenue levels by 2022
While 37% of SMEs have already returned to, or exceeded, their 2019 levels of business, 10% report they expect "normal" revenue by the end of 2021, and 28% by the end of 2022. Altogether, 74% of SMEs report they will have returned to pre-crisis levels by 2022. However, 10% anticipate a return to business as usual after 2022, and 15% don't know. Following on from the expectation that business will be buoyant by 2022, business owners are confident they will be able to recruit next year.
- 37% of SMEs report a neutral or positive effect from the crisis on their turnover in 2021
- 91% of SMEs experienced no difficulties in financing their capital expenditure
- 33% of SMEs report they have spent little or none of their state-guaranteed loan
- 63% of SMEs believe their cash resources are sufficient to cope with the crisis
- +19: balance of opinion on the expected trend in SME headcount in 2021
- 56% of SMEs plan to maintain or accelerate their digital transformation strategies
Content of the survey
- Revenue and employment
- Financial situation, access to credit and capital expenditure
- Outlook for 2022