During the first 10 months, Business Information Trends (TBI) has already counted 75,000 business closings. There is every reason to believe that the 100,000 mark will be crossed this year. And lockdowns are occurring in all regions, with lockdowns over Flanders more than 28 per cent higher than in 2021.
Among the hardest hit sectors is the food sector, including restaurants, telecoms and retail, which has collapsed with more than 8,000 businesses closing since the start of the year, Trends says. “This sector has already been weakened by the growth of e-commerce. And energy prices, wages and the rental index have been added on top of that,” Edward Rosens, VBO’s chief economist, tells The Weekly. He fears the “snowball effect” in cities. In the agricultural sector, a farm is lost every day in the year 2022.
It still appears that many of the companies trying to continue are partially suspending their activities. A survey conducted by the National Bank (NBB) showed that a third of companies have voluntarily reduced production or services in order to avoid a significant loss in profitability. Small businesses in particular are less able to pass on the increased costs.
For 2023, there are both pessimistic and encouraging signs, Trends writes. More and more permanent energy contracts are expiring and the wage index is gradually being felt everywhere. On the other hand, there are still more startups (108,000 in the first 10 months) and some sectors are doing very well, such as real estate, healthcare or scientific activities. Nor are companies more vulnerable than they used to be, judging by the failure rate.
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