In 2022, business should remain dynamic but lose pace, slowed by procurement tensions. There should be a strong recruitment drive.
SMEs are counting on a strong average growth in their turnover in 2022, at +4.9%, but slowing after a marked upturn last year (+ 7%). The balance of opinion has lost 11 points but remains healthily positive (at +25) and above its long-term average (+17). The supply difficulties are limiting the upswing: 62% of SMEs consider that their businesses are affected. In spite of everything, recruitment should remain vigorous. The indicator has even attained its highest level since 2001.
From a comfortable situation, the cash-flow situation of SMEs has deteriorated this half-year and looks set to continue worsening overthe next few months
SMEs have seen their cash-flow dwindle over the course of the last six months, but it remains at a comfortable level. The balance of opinion has lost 7 points since November, but remains close to its pre-crisis level (-5, versus -6 in 2019). However, it is likely to pursue its downward course over the next half-year, the forecast indicator losing 9 points to land at -12. To limit the impact of the procurement difficulties on their financial situations, an increasing share of SMEs envisage increasing their selling prices (73%) and reducing their operating margins (45%).
To cope with rising costs, SMEs are drawing more and more on their financial reserves, built up with the aid of state-guaranteed loans
Of the SMEs having taken out state-guaranteed loans, 53% declare that they have used the majority, with 35% having consumed virtually the entire sums, a proportion that has risen by 6 points over the last six months. 76% of them now wish to amortise their loans over several years and only 6% of respondents fear non-repayment of their loans.
In 2022, 45% of companies the momentum of SMEs investment should moderate, in a context where financing terms start to become difficult
have invested in 2022, or intend to do so by the end of the year, a proportion virtually stable compared with 2021 but still below the pre-crisis level. The indicator relating to the evolution in the amounts invested fell by 6 points, to reach -2, in a context where, if the proportion of managing directors confronted with credit access difficulties remains low (between 9 and 10%), the cost of credit is becoming a more onerous obstacle to investment.
SME managing directors anticipate a new slow-down of business in 2023, in a context of uncertainty with regard to the end of the tunnel where supply tensions are concerned.
21% more SMEs anticipate an increase in their activity next year rather than a fall. The indicator is 5 points below its long-term
average. The context remains uncertain: 40% of SMEs declare that they see no end in sight to the supply difficulties and 43% anticipate that they will last more than a year. With the war in the Ukraine, 70% of managing directors are moderately or even very worried about the risks of geopolitical conflicts.
In the coming years, the ecological and energy transition should encourage SME investment
Almost half the SMEs of 10 to 250 employees consider the ecological and energy transition to be a source of opportunity. 61% of them envisage increasing their green investments over the course of the next five years, 29% markedly so. SMEs of less than 10 employees remain more reserved with regard to the ecological and energy transition.