Business outlook appears grim
Four in 10 businesses (40.3 percent) consider it likely they will have to shut up shop this year, a Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen and Merchants (GSEVEE) survey published yesterday has shown.
Around 18,700 enterprises are seen closing in the first six months of the year, forcing thousands to join the growing unemployment lines. The majority of those businesses are manufacturers in and around the capital, while the job losses involved are expected to come to 34,000.
Seven in 10 businesses reported increasing liquidity problems and a shortage of capital from the market, with the number of firms indebted to the state and their suppliers growing by 10 percent from last year.
Over four in five small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) admit to being exposed to credit risks, seeing a slump in economic activity and operating with the prospect of shrinking rather than expanding in the near future.
In terms of employment, the forecasts for the first half of the year do not bode well, as for every two businesses (8.1 percent of the total) that plan to hire new staff, another three will be letting people go. GSEVEE estimates that 2,000 salaried jobs will be lost by June, without accounting for the impact on employment of the projected shutdowns.
Moreover, 40 percent of those businesses that do plan to hire staff in the first half of 2017 said they won’t be offering payroll positions, but part-time or outsourced work.
Sentiment is also bleak, with 58.8 percent of respondents expecting conditions to deteriorate and just 11 percent seeing a possible improvement through June. As such, just 3.6 percent of businesses plan to make new investments and 6.4 percent have applied to investment funding programs for that period.
“There needs to be a national plan for the country irrespective of who is in power, and politicians need to learn how to make decisions and give orders,” GSEVEE president Giorgos Kavathas said. “Moreover, the uncertainty of the situation concerning the outcome of the negotiations [with foreign creditors] exacerbates fears and risks, which in turn make small businesses and the self-employed more vulnerable.”