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    Small and Medium Enterprise AgencyThe 139th Survey of SME Business Conditions (January–March 2015)

    The Survey of SME Business Conditions is a quarterly survey conducted by the Organization for Small and Medium Enterprises and Regional Innovation, targeting about 19,000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across Japan in cooperation with business management advisors of the societies of commerce and industry and chambers of commerce as well as researchers of the National Federation of Small Business Associations.

    The Small and Medium Enterprise Agency and the organization jointly compiled the business achievements (DI) of SMEs in the January–March 2015 period and the forecasts (DI) for the April–June 2015 period concerning SME business conditions, sales amounts, ordinary profits and other elements. They hereby release the results.

    1. Key survey results

    The recent business conditions of small and medium enterprises appear to be pausing in some industries, while showing movements of picking up as a whole.

    • The business conditions DI (diffusion index) of all industries show a decrease in the negative margin.
    • Looking at the business conditions DI of each industry, the negative margins of both the manufacturing sector and the non-manufacturing sector decreased.

    1. From January to March 2015, the business conditions DI of all industries improved by 1.6 percentage points from minus 19.4 in the previous quarter to minus 17.8, showing a decrease in the negative margin.
    2. The business conditions DI of the manufacturing sector improved by 0.3 percentage points from minus 14.4 in the previous quarter to minus 14.1, which indicates that the negative margin decreased. Looking at the business conditions DI of each industry, the negative value turned into a positive value in the machinery industry, while the negative margin decreased in five industries including the pulp, paper and paper products, food, and ceramic, stone and clay products industries, and it remained flat in the iron & steel and non-ferrous metals industries. On the other hand, the positive value turned into a negative value in the chemical industry, and the negative margin increased in six industries including textiles, furniture and fixtures, and metal products sectors.
    3. The business conditions DI of the non-manufacturing sector improved by 1.7 percentage points from minus 21.0 in the preceding quarter to minus 19.3, which means the negative margin decreased. Looking at the business conditions DI of each industry, the negative margin decreased in three industries, namely, the wholesale, service and retail sectors, while that in the construction sector increased.
    4. The financing DI of all industries improved by 0.8 percentage points from minus 15.3 in the preceding quarter to minus 14.5, while the DI measuring long-term financing difficulty also improved by 1.1 percentage points from minus 6.9 in the preceding quarter to minus 5.8, which means the negative margin decreased. Furthermore, the DI of short-term financing difficulty also improved by 1.2 percentage points from minus 4.1 in the preceding quarter to minus 2.9, which means that the negative margin decreased.

    Topics

    1. In this quarter, the positive margin of the materials/goods purchase unit prices DI (calculated by subtracting "decrease" from "increase"; year-on-year comparison) decreased by 5.6 percentage points from 45.3 in the preceding quarter to 39.7, but it still remains at a high level. The unit sales price/per-customer sales DI (calculated by subtracting "decrease" from "increase"; year-on-year comparison) deteriorated by 0.6 percentage points from minus 12.1 in the preceding quarter to minus 12.7, which indicates that the negative margin increased. In addition, the profit (ordinary profit) DI (calculated by subtracting "decrease" from "increase"; year-on-year comparison) also deteriorated by 0.3 percentage points from minus 28.7 in the preceding quarter to minus 29.0, which indicates that the negative margin increased. A price increase in raw materials and other factors due to the depreciation of the yen should be closely and continuously monitored.
    2. The DI for excess/lack (calculated by subtracting "lack" from "excess"; year-on-year comparison) of employees in all industries decreased in the mid to the end of 2014. In this quarter, looking at an all-industries basis, the negative margin decreased by 0.6 percentage points up from minus 12.5 in the preceding quarter to minus 11.9, still showing a sense of labor shortage. Looking at each industry, the construction and service industries particularly showed a strong sense of labor shortage, indicating minus 21.7 and minus 15.2 respectively.

    The DI is calculated on a seasonally-adjusted quarter-on-quarter basis unless otherwise specified.

    For further details, see the Japanese language press release.

    Release date

    March 27, 2015

    Division in charge

    • Research Office, Policy Planning Division, Business Environment Department, Small and Medium Enterprise Agency
    • Business Support Information Center, Organization for Small and Medium Enterprises and Regional Innovations

    Related Information

    Data Reports

    Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
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