Northern Ireland Annual Business Survey Statistics 2021

Publication date:

23 November 2022

The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency has today released the main results of the 2021 Northern Ireland Annual Business Inquiry (ABI) survey.


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Growth in aVAB, billing and purchases between 2020 and 2021

Key findings include:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic had a great impact on the economy during 2020, due to (i) the adoption of containment measures to mitigate its spread and (ii) prolonged periods of company closures. This should be taken into account when considering the change in ABI estimates between 2020 and 2021.
  • When the numbers are viewed in the broader picture of trends observed in recent years, the 2021 numbers are on par with what could reasonably have been expected were it not for the impact of the pandemic in 2020. Other factors that may go a bit. One way to explain the higher-than-usual growth seen between 2020 and 2021 includes companies holding surplus stocks from lockdown periods during the pandemic and government schemes designed to boost the economy, such as the licensing scheme, “eat out to help’ and the High Street voucher scheme.
  • Total aGVA was estimated to be worth £30.6 billion at basic prices in 2021. This represented an increase of 19.4% (£5.0 billion) compared to 2020.
  • Turnover from NI businesses increased by 13.6% between 2020 and 2021 to £77.1bn, while the cost of purchases of goods, services and energy increased by 10.5% to £48.7bn over the same period.
  • What a result Given the volatility caused by the Covid pandemic, it is worth looking at the increase in aGVA, turnover and purchases between 2019 and 2021. aGVA increased by £5.3bn (21.0%), turnover increased by £5.7 billion (8.0%) and purchases increased by £2.1 billion (4.4%).

Growth in the Production, Construction, Distribution and Non-Financial Services sectors

  • The key driver of aGVA growth was in NI’s non-financial services sector, which increased £1.8bn (17.9%) between 2020 and 2021. Most of the aGVA growth in this sector is attributed to the transport and storage, which increased by £581 million (39.4%).
  • Retail and wholesale trade within the distribution sector recorded growth of GBP 868 million GVA (14.4%) during the period in question.
  • AGVA in the Manufacturing sector increased £1.1bn (15.5%) from 2020 to 2021. The key driver in this was the Manufacturing section, which posted growth of £891m (18.2%).
  • There was an increase in aGVA in the construction sector of £1.2 billion (47.5%) between 2020 and 2021.
  • Full and detailed results are available in the Northern Ireland Annual Bulletin of Business Research Statistics at the following link:

annual business consultation

Notes to editors:

  1. Comments are welcome and should be sent to Daniel Hogg, Economic and Labor Market Statistics Branch (ELMS), on 028 9025 5169 or [email protected]
  2. Follow ELMS on Twitter @ELMSNISRA
  3. aVAB at basic prices represents the income generated by the companies, out of which wages and salaries, the cost of capital investment and financial charges are paid before reaching a profit figure.
  4. Turnover is defined as the value of total sales and work done.
  1. For media inquiries, please contact the Economy Department Press Office at [email protected]
  1. The Executive Information Service operates an after-hours service for media inquiries only between 18:00 and 08:00 Monday to Friday and on weekends and holidays. The press officer on duty can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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