Business Sentiments of Singapore Companies on the Singapore Economy and Industries in FY21 Q3

- All Industries -  |  03 Feb 2022

Business Sentiments of Local Companies on the Singapore Economy and Industries

(FY21 Q3: Oct to Dec 2021)

 

Almost a year after Singapore’s vaccination drive started on Dec 30, 2020, the nation saw considerable success in returning to normalcy in 2021. As of Dec 28, 2021, Singapore had one of the highest rates of fully vaccinated people in the world.

Coupled with the local situation stabilising, the Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MTF) had announced that certain measures would be eased, such as allowing people to gather in groups of up to five and re-opening borders via vaccinated travel lanes (VTLs).

As Singapore exits the Stabilisation Phase towards a strategy of living with the virus, companies’ sentiments on the economy and industry in Oct to Dec 2021 experienced a lift compared to those the previous quarter.

However, COVID-19 has not failed to surprise the world throughout the last two years. Coming on the heels of November was the rise of a new COVID-19 variant known as Omicron. Many countries are once again choosing to observe cautiously if the Omicron waves overwhelm healthcare systems. In December, Singapore tightened VTL rules and adopted a “more cautious containment approach” to slow down Omicron’s spread and learn more about it. It remains to be seen if Omicron will have a huge negative impact on the economy going forward.

The Business Sentiments Survey (BSS) ascertains how companies in Singapore are adjusting to the current global and domestic economic environment. This survey was conducted in Oct to Dec 2021, with over 1,500 business leaders.

READ ALSO: Business Sentiments Survey FY21 Q2 report

 

Perceptions of Singapore’s Economy and Industry Situation

The overall perceptions of Singapore’s economy improved from Jul to Sep 2021, with a decrease in “Poor” sentiments to 27 percent. Companies’ future economic outlook remained largely positive, at 51 percent.

Chart 1: SG companies perceptions of Singapore economy between Oct to Dec 2021
Chart 1 showing local companies’ perceptions of Singapore economy between Oct to Dec 2021

 

Companies were less optimistic about their current industry situation, with 41 percent rating it as “Poor”. However, four in 10 companies expected their industry situation to improve in the future.

Chart 2: SG companies perceptions of their industry between Oct to Dec 2021
Chart 2 showing local companies’ perceptions of their industry between Oct to Dec 2021

 

Year-on-Year (Y-o-Y) Revenue and Manpower Changes

Comparing with previous quarters, more businesses similarly experienced a decrease in Y-o-Y revenues. The Food Services, Education, and Land Transport sectors saw a higher proportion of companies with lower revenues in Jul to Sep 2021. Thirty percent of companies reported an increase in revenue, and the proportion of companies with Y-o-Y revenue increase has hovered at around this level for the last three quarters. In addition, 45 percent of companies reported a decrease in revenue for the same period, up from 43 percent in the previous quarter.

However, companies remain optimistic that revenues will improve in the next two quarters. This optimism may be fueled by the 6.5 percent growth in Singapore’s economy in the third quarter of 2021, compared to a year ago.

In addition, more than half of the companies polled reported that they were profitable in FY2020.

Singapore companies that were profitable in FY20
Singapore companies that were profitable in FY20

 

According to the advance estimates by the Ministry of Trade and Industry Singapore, the percentage change over the corresponding period of the previous year included the following:

  • Output in the construction sector jumped 57.9 percent
  • Manufacturing rose by 7.5 percent
  • Services-producing industries were up 5.5 percent

This probably indicates that companies’ optimism that revenues will improve in the near future is well-placed.

IndSights Research also asked companies about their manpower changes. More companies reduced manpower in Jul to Sep 2021, compared to the previous quarter (19% vs. 17% respectively). Companies in Food Manufacturing, Food Services, and Land Transport reported the highest manpower reductions.

However, future manpower projections look positive, with 26 percent of companies expecting manpower growth in Oct to Dec 2021. Looking further ahead at Jan to Mar 2022, the figure is even higher, with 36 percent of companies expecting their workforce to grow.

READ ALSO: The Future of Work Survey Findings

 

Company Strategies

We asked companies about the areas they planned to give budget priority to in 2022. The top two priorities were to increase budgets for business expansion (46 percent) and the digitalisation of business processes (42 percent). Other areas polled included innovation, productivity, training, and redesigning job scopes.

As companies seek to capitalise on possible growth prospects, these could be signs of the industry gearing up to meet new business demands with the gradual re-opening of global economies.

Upskilling continues to serve as a company strategy, with 88 percent of companies planning to increase or maintain their training budgets in 2022. Our research data strongly suggests that companies with robust training and development plans are well placed to grow and thrive – among other findings, 71 percent of organisations that allocated budget for training reported to be profitable in the financial year of 2020 (FY2020).

Singapore companies that allocated budget for training tend to be profitable
Singapore companies that allocated budget for training tend to be profitable

 

COVID-19 Restriction Measures

IndSights also found that companies have become more prepared over time to handle disruptions arising from stricter COVID-19 measures. 55 percent of companies said that they were at least moderately to extremely prepared, which is an increase compared to Jul to Aug 2021 (44%).

Level of preparedness of Singapore companies to handle disruptions
Level of preparedness of Singapore companies to handle disruptions

 

The higher level of preparedness may also explain why significantly more companies are now in favour of gradually reopening the Singapore economy. 70 percent of companies are of the view that Singapore should gradually reopen economy and tolerate daily number of COVID-19 cases, as long as the medical system can cope. This is an increase from the previous quarter (54 percent).

READ ALSO: Additional business resources

 

 

About the Study

Our recent study was conducted in October to December 2021 with 1,585 business leaders from various industries: Environmental Services, Food Services, Logistics, Retail, Information & Communications, Security, Wholesale Trade, Real Estate, Air Transport, Land Transport, Sea Transport, Hotels, Construction, Financial Services, Professional Services, Food Manufacturing, Healthcare and Education.

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