MADRID, 28 Jun. (EUROPA PRESS) -
Small and medium-sized Spanish companies (SMEs) have accumulated a 27% increase in their costs in the last two years despite the "respite" that the drop in inflation has brought in recent months, according to the Cepyme indicator on the situation of the SME corresponding to the first quarter of the year.
The SME employers' association points out in this report that although total costs in SMEs moderated their year-on-year rise to 2.2% in the first quarter, it is "a fictitious slowdown", as it is due to a base effect.
"The reality is that SMEs suffer an increase in costs that is added to the high increases of the last quarters. In fact, in the last 24 months, the company registers a rise in accumulated costs of 27%," denounces Cepyme.
Between the months of January and March, they highlighted the reduction in energy prices by 3.5%, although this decrease, points out the employer, was not enough for companies to notice it on their billsm, since the price of energy it is more than double that in the first quarter of 2021, rising 107.8% in two years.
As for the labor costs of SMEs, the business organization views with "concern" the rise that they have experienced in the first quarter, of 4.4%.
The increase is greater in small (4.7%) than in medium-sized (3.5%) and includes salary increases, but also shows, according to Cepyme, "the unequal impact of the rise in contributions and the minimum interprofessional wage (SMI) according to company size".
Additionally, warns the business organization, these additional costs are preceded by the accumulated increases in contributions for companies over the last five years. In this sense, Cepyme denounces the minimum contribution bases have risen by close to 50% and the maximum by 18.5% since 2018.
"In addition, the first rise in contribution rates in the last 40 years has been registered, amplified with the pension reform," says the employer.
According to the business organization's report, SME sales rose 14% year-on-year in the first quarter, "but exaggerated by the effect of inflation", also being the lowest growth in the last six quarters.
Stripping out the price effect, sales increased by 3.8%, and all this in a context of credit restrictions and higher prices.
Comparing the sales of the first quarter of this year with those of the same period of 2019, before the pandemic, the increase reaches 3.3%, with an accumulated increase of 7.7% in the medians and 1.5% in the small ones
Cepyme denounces that together with the rise in costs due to inflation, contributions and the SMI, companies are noticing the rise in interest rates, since the average interest rate of new bank credit "has more than doubled", passing from 1.9% in the third quarter of 2022 to 3.9% between January and March of this year.
"There has been an increase close to 200 basis points in six months, the largest for a similar period in at least 25 years, which threatens the business margins of SMEs," warns Cepyme.
The granting of new loans to SMEs in the first quarter reached 43,800 million, a figure similar to that of the three previous quarters, although 6% higher than that of the first quarter of 2019.
However, Cepyme specifies that it is an increase in financing "more apparent than real", since in those four years accumulated inflation was 16%. "In other words, the new credit finances 10% less in real terms," she points out.
"The Bank of Spain Bank Loan Survey for the first quarter of 2023 shows that the criteria for granting loans to non-financial corporations hardened for the sixth consecutive quarter due to the increase in perceived risks," says Cepyme.
All in all, the Cepyme indicator on the situation of Spanish SMEs improved in the first quarter to 5.7 points, its highest note in three and a half years, but far from the figure of 7 points marked in 2016 and 2017.
"Therefore, despite the improvement that reflects a better-than-expected start to 2023, the index is still very far from the remarkable rating of six years ago," concludes the business organization.