The SME industry fell again in March and accumulated a contraction of 19% in the first quarter

The SME industry fell again in March and accumulated a contraction of 19% in the first quarter

In addition, a decline of 3.4% was observed in the seasonally adjusted monthly comparison. This situation reflects the seriousness of the situation in the sector and the need to take urgent measures to reverse this trend.

It is the fourth consecutive month that manufacturing activity has fallen and, given the way production orders are coming in, SMEs do not see a bottom in the short term.

The companies surveyed operated in March with 70% of its installed capacity, mshowing a drop of 0.8 percentage points compared to February. There are sectors with high stock levels that are torn between continuing to produce so as not to cut the process and having to lay off staff or slow down.

On the other hand, the industries consulted highlighted that prices were more stable and 25.3% indicated that they continue to have problems replenishing stocks.


SMEs: sector-by-sector analysis

Food and drinks

The sector registered a fall of 5.6% annually at constant prices in March and 3.6% in the monthly comparison. In the first quarter of the year there is an accumulated decrease of 14.2% annually. The industries operated with 73.3% of their installed capacity.

Despite last month’s performance, some companies highlighted as positive la deceleration of prices and the normalization of the import of inputs. In any case, the expected scenario combines increasing costs with increasingly smaller margins and decreasing sales.

Textiles and clothing

This sector improved 10.9% annually in March, although it registered a drop of 0.5% compared to February. For the first quarter of the year it accumulates an increase of 2.3%. The industries operated with 71% of their installed capacity. This is a low level for the sector, but better than last year.

Despite the growth in activity, companies lamented the multiplication of electricity rates and because the sale is not enough to cover manufacturing costs.

Wood and furniture

In March, the sector fell 11.9% annually at constant prices, and 4.4% in the seasonally adjusted monthly comparison. In the first quarter of the year, it accumulated a decrease of 20.1%. The industries operated with 72.6% of their installed capacity. Was a relatively stable month in terms of prices, but production was greatly slowed down, with few consultations and low sales. People stopped works, as did governments at all levels, and that affected the sectors that are directly or indirectly linked.

Metal, machinery and equipment, transport material

In March, the sector had a contraction of 16.8% annually at constant prices and 4.8% in the monthly comparison. For the quarter, accumulate a 24.5% drop compared to the same months in 2023. The industries operated at 66.6% of their installed capacity, levels similar to those of recent months.

The companies consulted were concerned about the economic conditions, but also optimistic about the recovery. There were some that They laid off staff because there was no work to give them, and others that decided to close some days so as not to continue accumulating stocks.

Chemicals and plastics

In March, the sector experienced a significant contraction of 20.7% annually at constant prices, and 4.4% in the monthly comparison. In the quarter, production accumulated a drop of 28.7% compared to the same period in 2023. During the third month of the year, industries operated with 65.6% of their installed capacity, with low levels of investments.

The companies consulted explained that their clients maintain high levels of stocks and that is why production orders were stopped. SMEs that export manage to compensate for the decline in the domestic market, but profitability is still a difficult equation to balance with current costs.

Paper and prints

Activity fell 27.4% annually at constant prices, once again being the sector with the greatest decline. In monthly terms, a 5% contraction was also recorded and in the first quarter of the year, activity accumulated a drop of 23.7% compared to the same period last year. The companies operated with 77.9% of their installed capacity, high level both in historical comparison and in relation to other sectors, but which is explained by the low levels of investments.


Source: Ambito

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