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SME owners see tough times ahead

Smaller business owners are feeling gloomier than at any time in almost three years, amid weak export demand and fears of a recession. About 3,600 small and medium-sized enterprise (SMEs) were interviewed for the index, which is compiled by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and research firm DP Information Group. Three of Singapore’s major industries – commerce and trading, construction and engineering and manufacturing – showed a significant decline in sentiment. The sharp falls in these segments outweighed the increase in optimism among the retail and food and beverage, business services and transport and storage sectors.

What was consistent across all sectors, however, was a decline in expectations over turnover and profitability.All industries but one said they had lower expectations with regard to business expansion over the next six months.

The slowdown in China’s economy and a sudden move by regulators to devalue the yuan, which caused volatile movements in regional currencies, have had a harsh impact on SMEs, noted Mr Lincoln Teo, the chief operating officer of DP Information Group.

SBF DP SME index