6 of 10 small businesses in SG on ‘survival mode’ amid new COVID waves

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Singapore As the peril of new waves of COVID-19 outbreaks looms, around 59% of small businesses in Singapore or around six out of ten of them say that they are basically on ‘survival mode’ in terms of operations, a new survey from global services company American Express shows.

The survey notes that only 28% of local businesses say that they are ‘thriving’, while 12% of local businesses note that they are at risk of closing their operations. About 1% of the business respondents replied that they have closed down their operations.

Despite the cautionary mood among the majority of these businesses, about 67% of the respondents are ‘cautiously optimistic’ about their future, noting that this year’s annual sale will be a lot higher compared to their pre-pandemic sales during 2019.

Reasons to note such optimism include increase in revenue from expanding their businesses online (46%), support from new customers (44%), and continued support from regular customers (40%).

In addition, 71% of respondents shared they are optimistic they can thrive in the new normal—with 76% having made adjustments to sustain their business in the next 12 months. The top two changes businesses plan to make in the new normal are to focus more on e-commerce and communicate more with customers via social media.

Ho Yat-Wai, country manager at American Express Singapore, notes that while local businesses are more optimistic after almost two years since the pandemic started, its volatility weighs heavily on business leaders’ ‘minds’, adding that the recent spike in local cases is an example of the fluidity of the situation and difficulty in planning.

However, optimism alone would not drive businesses forward, the study noted, as the uncertainty for concrete business plans to move forward are still prevalent. Only 45% of business leaders state a clear long-term strategy compared to 84% before the pandemic. Meanwhile, Another 25% changed their business strategy to become more agile to better respond to changes, rather than focusing on long-term planning. Among those who do not currently have a business plan, 23% attribute it back to uncertainty.

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