Survey: Poor order situation and high interest rates are putting a strain on medium-sized businesses

Concerns are growing among medium-sized businesses in Germany due to the weak economy and structural problems.

Survey: Poor order situation and high interest rates are putting a strain on medium-sized businesses

Concerns are growing among medium-sized businesses in Germany due to the weak economy and structural problems. Both the business situation and the expectations of the more than 1,000 companies surveyed have "deteriorated significantly" compared to the spring survey - this is the conclusion of the Federal Association of German Volksbanks and Raiffeisenbanks (BVR) and DZ Bank based on their most recent joint SME survey.

In the spring, hope for an economic recovery still prevailed in all sectors included in the semi-annual survey and in companies of almost all sizes. Now the situation has noticeably worsened beyond the ongoing problem areas of a shortage of skilled workers and bureaucracy, particularly in two areas.

According to the current analysis, almost half (46 percent) of medium-sized companies are now worried about the order situation, up from 29 percent in the spring. The chemical and plastics industries are most affected by this, as they are already suffering greatly from increased energy costs.

In addition, a quarter (26 percent) of the owners and managing directors surveyed between September 18 and October 16, 2023 are worried that financing has become more expensive as a result of the rapidly rising interest rates. That is more than ever before in this survey. In construction, this figure is even higher at 35 percent. “The construction industry and medium-sized agricultural businesses are currently suffering in particular from the increased financing conditions as a result of the interest rate turnaround,” says the evaluation.

“The companies are very adaptable”

“The federal government’s efforts to strengthen the business location must quickly produce tangible results,” warned BVR President Marija Kolak. Faster planning and approval procedures, less bureaucracy and financial incentives for more investments would be a priority.

Despite the ongoing crises of the past few years, DZ Bank corporate customer director Uwe Berghaus expressed optimism that medium-sized companies would also master the new challenges well. "The companies are very adaptable."

The current edition of the semi-annual medium-sized business study, which is supplemented by an evaluation of the annual balance sheets of medium-sized corporate customers, states: "The results of this study (...) give hope that the vast majority of medium-sized companies will be able to complete the next few months and years successfully . They certainly seem to be well prepared for this."

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