The pandemic has abruptly halted the upward trend in the SME confidence index. According to the new version of the Conjuncture Survey prepared by the Financial Analysis Division of the National Bank of Greece, the SME Confidence Index fell in the first half of 2020 by 34 points, returning to negative ground (-8 points), with the current performance approaching the levels of previous crises (onset of 2009 recession and 2015 imposition of capital controls). It is noteworthy that the decline was equally sharp for both micro-enterprises (with a turnover of less than € 0.5 million) and medium-sized enterprises (with a turnover between € 2.5 million and € 10 million).
The effects of the pandemic on economic life and the subsequent uncertainty significantly limit the expectations of SMEs for the future. Therefore, the future demand index showed a sharp decline of 87 points – marking a 10-year high – while the weakening of SMEs’ growth targets is also significant (from 71% to 37% of the sector). The automotive industry, tourism and retail sectors were struck particularly hard, as reflected in the survival target index, which in these sectors exceeded 40%.
The successful curb of the current crisis derives from the defense capabilities available to the SMEs. Therefore, for the companies that enjoy improved sales, liquidity and profitability performance, it will be easier to meet the challenges of the period, however an equivalent percentage of companies are in a worse situation and will need more intense support. Of the individual sizes, medium-sized enterprises are found in an advantageous position (45% in better condition), while micro-enterprises (47% in worse condition) face more intense difficulties.
At the level of sectors, tourism stands out more positively following a previous decade of strong growth (61% in better condition), thus having room to absorb the effects of the current crisis which affects the sector with particular intensity. The picture is also positive for the food industry (43% in better condition) which maintains its export dynamics during the pandemic. In contrast, the retail, apparel and other industries appear to have less strong lines of defense and will require stronger support, as the share of companies that are in a worse position compared to 2008 accounts for more than 50% of the sector. /ibna