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Business back to normal? IIM-A survey says, sales expectations have sharply improved

By Our Representative 

The Indian Institute of Management’s Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES), which polls a panel of business leaders to find out their perception of slack in economy, including their inflation expectations, year-ahead cost expectations and the factors influencing price changes, such as profit and sales levels, etc., has said that the cost perceptions data indicates signs of moderation in price pressures.
Carried out for September, the survey says, the cost pressure of the reporting firms has shifted from “very significant increase (over 6%) to moderate increase (3.1% to 6%).” It adds, “The percentage of firms perceiving over 10% cost increase y-o-y has declined. Over 21% of the firms in September 2022 round of the survey perceive that costs have increased very significantly (over 10%) – down from 26% recorded in August 2022.”
Claiming to be a unique survey, in that it goes straight to businesses -- the price setters -- rather than to consumers or households, to understand their expectations of the price level changes, responses from around 1,000 companies also suggest, firms’ sales expectations have sharply improved.
“Percentage of firms reporting ‘somewhat less than normal’ sales has declined to 24% in September 2022 from 32% reported in August 2022”, it says, adding, “Around 27% of the firms in September 2022 report that sales are ‘about normal’, sharply up from 19% reported in August 2022.” “Normal" means as compared to the average level obtained in the preceding 3 years, excluding the Covid-19 period.
The survey, however, notes that profit margins expectations have only improved marginally. “Over 34% of the participating firms in the survey perceive profit margins are ‘somewhat less than normal’ – down from 36% reported in the earlier round of the survey”, it says, adding, it is a probabilistic assessment with a measure of uncertainty, even as providing an indirect assessment of overall demand condition.
The survey further says, One year ahead business inflation expectations in September 2022 have declined by to 4.74% from 5.09% reported in August 2022. “The uncertainty of business inflation expectations in September 2022, as captured by the square root of the average variance of the individual probability distribution of unit cost increase, has sharply increased to 2.11%”, it adds.

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