The results of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce’s survey conducted among 1,571 companies assessed their activity in the last quarter of 2021 and showed their expectations for the first quarter of this year.
The survey results show that the labour market situation is stable with most companies expecting growth or the stagnation of sales of services and goods. There is also moderate optimism about higher exports and investments in the first quarter of 2022.
On the other hand, the high cost of resources and domestic market demand are the challenges that most companies have faced in early 2022. Input expenses in the last quarter of 2021 are up 72 percent from the third quarter of last year, primarily in the wood industry and agriculture, the Chamber’s website states.
More than half of survey respondents expect the business climate to remain unchanged in the first quarter of this year, a quarter expects that will improve, while 23% expect the business climate to be worse than in the last quarter of 2021. Most companies maintained or even increased the number of employees in the fourth quarter of last year while 92% of companies surveyed have no plans to lay off any of their workers in the first quarter of this year either.
On the trade side, the majority expects the positive trend to continue in the first quarter of this year, with as many as 61% expecting higher or same sales figures. In addition, businesspeople expect exports to increase in the first three months of this year, while ¾ of the respondents expect imports to be as high or higher than those from late 2021.
The survey results also show that as many as 87% of businesses are planning a higher or the same level of investments relative to last year, primarily in construction and land and imported and domestic equipment.
78% of respondents said they have sufficient funds for optimal business financing, and when it comes to liquidity, companies from the tourism, catering, wood processing and services sector expect the biggest challenges with their liquidity.
Last year, companies mainly used their funds for business operations (80% of them), while 17% also obtained loans. Incentives from state and local governments were used by 40% of companies. The companies that took part in the survey employ more than 285,000 workers and generated revenues of EUR 21.7 billion, according to financial report data for 2020.
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