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Small and Medium Enterprise Agency The 141st Survey of SME Business Conditions (July–September 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 for the July–September 2015 period and the forecasts (DI) for the October–December 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 at a standstill in some industries, while showing movement towards picking up as a whole.

  1. From July to September 2015, the business conditions DI of all industries registered minus 15.5 (increased by 3.2 points compared to the previous quarter), showing a decrease in the negative margin for the first time in two quarters.
  2. The business conditions DI of the manufacturing sector registered minus 12.8 (increased by 2.8 points compared to the previous quarter) showing a decrease in the negative margin. Looking at the business conditions DI of each industry, a negative value turned into a positive value in the chemical industry and the negative margin decreased in seven industries including the pulp, paper, and paper products; the ceramic, stone and clay products; the printing industries, etc, while the negative margin increased in six industries including the electricity, the information communication apparatus and electronic components; the machinery and equipment; the metal products; the furniture and fixtures industries.
    (Reference) A comment of a surveyed company (example) 
    • In view of the implementation of the increase of the consumption tax in a year and a half, housing manufacturers are intensifying their activities to increase new home orders. (Timber and wood products industry).
  3. The business conditions DI of the non-manufacturing sectors registered minus 16.4 (increased by 3.2 points compared to the previous quarter), showing a decrease in the negative margin. Looking at the business conditions DI of each industry, the negative margin decreased in all four industries, namely, the retail, the construction, the service and the wholesale sectors.
    (Reference) A comment of a surveyed company (example)
    • It seems that Town Premium gift Certificates sold in August have positive impacts. (Retail sector)
  4. The financing DI of all industries registered minus 13.0 (increased by 1.6 points compared to the previous quarter), showing a decrease in the negative margin, while the DI measuring long-term financing difficulty and the DI measuring short-term financing difficulty registered minus 5.4 (increased by 0.6 points compared to the previous quarter) and minus 2.7 (increased by 0.7 points compared to the previous quarter) respectively, showing a slight decrease in the negative margin.

2. Topics

  1. In this quarter, the positive margin in the materials/goods purchase unit prices DI (calculated by subtracting “decreasing” from “increasing,” year-on-year comparison) decreased by 5.2 percentage points from the previous quarter to 35.3, showing a slight decrease in the positive margin, but still remains at a high level. On the other hand, the unit sales price / per-customer sales DI (calculated in the same way) registered minus 9.5 (decreased by 0.6 points compared to the previous quarter) and the profit (ordinary profit) DI (calculated in the same way) registered minus 23.5 (decreased by 0.2 points compared to the previous quarter), showing a slight increase in the negative margin in both.
    (Reference) A comment of a surveyed company (example)
    • Since both the price increase in raw materials and decrease in product sales amount have reduced the income, it is necessary to study how to increase sales. (Food Sector)
  2. The DI for excess/lack (calculated by subtracting "lack" from "excess"; year-on-year comparison) of employees in all industries decreased for the first time in three quarters by 1.7 percentage points to minus 12.9, showing an increase in the negative margin and pointing out a marked shortage. Looking at DIs by industry, although the negative margin decreased in the retail sector registering minus 7.0 (increased by 0.1 point compared to the previous quarter) showing a slight decrease in the negative margin, the negative margin increased in four industries, including minus 21.3 (a decrease by 4.8 points compared to the previous quarter) in the construction industry, minus 6.9 (decreased by 4.4 points compared to the previous quarter) in the retail sector, among others.

Note: DIs are calculated on a seasonally-adjusted quarter-on-quarter basis unless otherwise specified.

For further details, see the Japanese language press release.

Release date

September 30, 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 Innovation

Related Information

Data Reports
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
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