Coronavirus: Data shows small businesses are adapting to doing business amid the pandemic

Many small businesses have successfully adapted to the new normal, new data shows, with spending up year-on-year and jobs coming back. 

The regions are leading the way, managing to avoid the level 3 lockdown which hit Auckland in August, according to Xero's latest Small Business Insights report.

Northland led the way in September, with revenue up 10.7 percent on September 2019, followed by Canterbury (7.1), Wellington (5.4) and Waikato (3.7).

"We're seeing the growth predominantly in the regions - doing really well across Northland in particular," Xero business growth director David Bell told The AM Show on Wednesday. "The manufacturing sector is going really well, housing is holding up and growing at about 6 percent." 

This year has seen the biggest global economic shock in nearly a century, in the form the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite being one of the few countries to have successfully prevented widespread outbreaks of the disease, New Zealand hasn't been immune to the economic impacts.

While the hard and fast lockdown earlier this year caused our GDP to plummet further than many of our peers, it's expected to bounce back hard in the September quarter - not having COVID-19 in the community good not just for health, but business.

Bell says the regions took advantage of avoiding being locked down during August's outbreak in Auckland. 

"They definitely adapted and made the best of that. We did see Auckland struggle a little bit with some job losses in the city centre... but overall, the regions did well."

Nationwide, small business employment fell 1.4 percent in August - 1.7 percent in Auckland, which went to level 3. Most of these jobs came back in September when restrictions were lifted - up 0.9 percent nationwide. 

Bell says the hospitality, retail and tourism sectors have been hit hardest. With international travel difficult right now, Kiwis are making the most of the opportunity to see their own backyard - but they're just not as loaded as foreign tourists, unfortunately. 

"When we go to Queenstown we're not spending as much - we don't feel we're quite on the same trip we might be going on when we go to the Gold Coast. We go down there a little bit more conservative than the Aussies do when they come over. 

"Still, we're going down in our droves - you can't get a hotel room through the Christmas break. We're doing our bit." 

Queenstown, heavily dependent on tourism, was one of just two regions to experience a fall in revenue in September, compared to last year. 

"Those that are looking at data and using IT are definitely doing better than those that don't," said Bell. "The IT sector, e-commerce, people using social media better to advertise their business... are doing really well."

He says now's a good time to change industries if you're worried about your present career prospects.

"Kiwi innovation is very much alive and well. Take the chance and be brave - there's a lot of people out there to help you... there is real opportunity right now. The Government is putting in a lot of support financially to help people. Now is the time." 

The September quarter GDP figures will be out in mid-December.