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Small and Medium Enterprise AgencyThe 142nd Survey of SME Business Conditions (October–December 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 from commerce and industry, chambers of commerce, and researchers from the National Federation of Small Business Associations.
The Small and Medium Enterprise Agency (SMEA) and the Organization jointly compiled the business achievements (diffusion indices, or DIs) of SMEs for the October–December 2015 period and the forecasts (DIs) for the January–March 2016 period concerning SME business conditions, sales amounts, ordinary profits, and other data. The SMEA and the Organization hereby release the results.

1. Key survey results

The recent business conditions of SMEs appear to be at a standstill in some industries, while showing movement towards picking up as a whole.

  1. From October to December 2015, the business conditions DI for all industries was −15.1 (increased 0.4 points compared to the previous quarter), improving for the second consecutive quarter.
  2. The business conditions DI for the manufacturing sector was −12.9 (decreased 0.1 points compared to the previous quarter), having slightly worsened. Looking at the business conditions DI of each industry, improvement was seen in five industries including transportation equipment, other manufacturing, and food, and it remained flat for the textile industry, while worsening in eight industries including the chemical industry; the furniture and fixtures industries; the pulp, paper, and paper products industry; the ceramic, stone, and clay products industry; and the electric, information and communications equipment, and electronic component industries.
    (Reference) Comment from a surveyed company (example)
    Influenced by the Chinese economy, business from our clients generally has tended to slow down. (Information and communications equipment and electronic components)
  3. The business conditions DI of the non-manufacturing sectors was −15.8 (increased 0.6 points compared to the previous quarter), having slightly improved. Looking at the business conditions DI of each industry, improvement was seen in the wholesale and service sectors, while it worsened in the construction and retail sectors.
    (Reference) Comment from a surveyed company (example)
    Our business conditions have improved due to an increase in meat consumption thanks to an increase in domestic and overseas tourism. (Wholesale sector)
  4. The financing DI of all industries was −12.1 (increased 0.9 points compared to the previous quarter), improving for the second consecutive quarter, while the DI measuring long-term financing difficulty and the DI measuring short-term financing difficulty were −5.1 (increased 0.3 points compared to the previous quarter) and −2.3 (increased 0.4 points compared to the previous quarter) respectively, showing a slight improvement.

2. Topics

  1. In this quarter, the materials/goods unit purchase price DI (calculated by subtracting “decrease” from “increase,” year-on-year comparison) decreased by 4.7 percentage points from the previous quarter to 30.6, decreasing for the second consecutive quarter, but it still remains at a high level. On the other hand, the unit sales price / per-customer sales DI (calculated in the same way) was −10.0 (decreased 0.5 points compared to the previous quarter), slightly decreasing, while the profit (ordinary profit) DI (calculated in the same way) was −22.3 (increased 1.2 points compared to the previous quarter), showing an improvement.
    (Reference) Comment from a surveyed company (example)
    Because of the cost pressure due to continued limited availability and price increases for raw materials, especially dairy, we need to pass such increased costs along in the price of some products. (Food sector)
  2. The DI for excess/lack (calculated by subtracting "lack" from "excess"; year-on-year comparison) of employees in all industries decreased 1.7 points to −14.6, highlighting a marked shortage for the second consecutive quarter. Looking at DIs by industry, there was a market shortage in all industries, with a DI of −23.8 (decrease of 2.5 points compared to the previous quarter) in the construction industry and a DI of −8.9 (decreased 2.0 points compared to the previous quarter) in the wholesale sector, among others.

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

Release date

December 14, 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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