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Xero launches in-depth look into the economic health of Kiwi SMBs

14 May 18

Cloud accounting company Xero today unveiled Xero Small Business Insights, providing a comprehensive picture of the conditions and economic health of small businesses in New Zealand.

Updated monthly, the data covers five major pillars - cash flow, getting paid, hiring people, trading overseas and cloud adoption.

It is based on anonymised and aggregated data drawn from more than 300,000 New Zealand subscribers using Xero.

Xero Small Business Insights serves to deepen the understanding of New Zealand’s small business economy.

The metrics rely on all Xero subscribers that meet the criteria for each pillar, making it more comprehensive than many private surveys, which are often drawn from a far smaller sample size.

The data is also updated more frequently than most small business data pools.

The findings were launched by the Minister for Small Business Stuart Nash, Xero country manager craig Hudson, and economist Cameron Bagrie at an event in Wellington this morning.

The Minister highlighted the importance of tracking the health of small businesses, especially when it comes to cash flow and payment trends.

He previously noted that “timely payments are essential for good cash flow, and for small businesses, cash flow is commonly a number one concern.”

Hudson says, “Small businesses play a crucial part in driving the Kiwi economy, so understanding what makes them tick is essential.

“That’s what is so special about the size and nature of our data sample - Xero Small Business Insights builds a comprehensive picture of the economic health of small businesses in New Zealand, to a level of detail not previously seen before.

“It’s our hope that with this data in hand, policymakers, large enterprises and even small businesses themselves will be able to make better-informed decisions that ultimately benefit both the small business economy, as well as the wider New Zealand economy,” Hudson says.

Bagrie says, “Xero Small Business Insights represents a big step forward in the availability and potential use of information to add value and provide intelligent customer insights on small business trends.

Xero Small Business Insights can be found on the Xero website.

Key metrics unveiled at the launch of New Zealand Xero Small Business Insights include:

Cash flow

  • Over the past year (from March 2017 to March 2018), on average, 50 of New Zealand small businesses were cash flow positive in any given month
  • Cash flow positivity was high towards the end of 2017 with November and December at 55.6 and 55.8 respectively. The highest peak was reached in March 2018 at 56.5
  • Conversely, only 38.6 of small businesses were cash flow positive in January 2018 - a time of year associated with increased spending following the Christmas season and lower productivity due to additional annual leave taken during the holiday period

Getting paid

  • From March 2017 to March 2018, 30-day invoices were paid on average 4.7 days late. The average number of days to pay a 30-day invoice is therefore 34.7
  • The best months to get paid were April 2017 (33.2 days) and December 2017 (32.4 days). Whereas the worst months to get paid over the past year were March 2017 and May 2017 at 38.5 days and 36.4 respectively
  • However, there is progress with the yearly average of late payment days falling from 36.5 in 2015 to 35 in 2017

Trading overseas

  • Over the past year (from March 2017 to March 2018), imports decreased by 3.1 , while exports remained generally unchanged overall
  • Both imports and exports experienced moments of fluctuation with the import growth rate hitting its peak in March 2017 at 39.9 and its low in January 2018 at -25
  • The export growth rates also experienced fluctuation with a peak in March 2018 at 47.2 and a low in June 2017 at -17.2


  • According to the data, February is routinely the best month to look for a job with employment growth rates in February 2018 hitting 2.85
  • This follows a natural dip in employment every January (-3.3 in 2018) - a time of year where casual staff finish up following the Christmas holidays and students leave their part-time jobs and head back to school
  • For hiring, the fastest growing industry based on those businesses using our payroll services in 2017 was retail trade (20.5%)
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