Northern Ireland Annual Business Inquiry Statistics 2020

Date published: 23 November 2021

The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) has today released headline results from the 2020 Northern Ireland Annual Business Inquiry (ABI) survey.

Economic Output Statistics
Economic Output Statistics

Key Points

Growth in Approximate Gross Value Added (aGVA), decrease in turnover and purchases between 2019 and 2020

  • Total aGVA was estimated to be worth £25.7 billion at basic prices in 2020. This represented a rise of 1.4 per cent (£353 million) compared to 2019.
  • Turnover for NI businesses decreased by 6.0 per cent between 2019 and 2020 to £67.1 billion, while the cost of purchases of goods, services and energy decreased by 7.0 per cent to £43.4 billion over the same period.
  • A combination of falling turnover and falling purchases underlay the aGVA growth of 1.4 per cent due to businesses recording a larger percentage decrease in their year on year purchases compared to their percentage decrease in year on year turnover. aGVA can be crudely considered to be total sales minus total purchases hence, in simplistic terms, even though business income is less than the previous year, the expenditure of businesses experienced a greater decrease and thus by proxy the businesses are adding relatively more to the economy.

Growth in the production, distribution and non-financial services sectors. Decrease in construction sector.

  • The key driver of aGVA growth was in the NI production sector which increased by £655 million (10.4 per cent) between 2019 and 2020.  The majority of aGVA growth in this sector is attributable to the energy generation and supply section which increased by £403 million (61.4 per cent).
  • Retail and wholesale trade within the distribution sector recorded aGVA growth of £53 million (0.8 per cent) over the period in question.
  • aGVA in the non-financial services sector increased by £147 million (1.5 per cent) from 2019 to 2020. The key driver in this was the Information and Communication services section, which recorded aGVA growth of £291 million (24.1 per cent).
  • In contrast, there was a decrease of aGVA in the construction sector of £494 million (16.1 per cent) between 2019 and 2020
  • Full detailed results are available in the Northern Ireland Annual Business Inquiry Statistics Bulletin on the NISRA website.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to Daniel Hogg, Economic & Labour Market Statistics Branch (ELMS), on 028 9025 5169 or at
  2. Follow ELMS on Twitter.
  3. aGVA at Basic prices represents the income generated by businesses, out of which is paid wages and salaries, the cost of capital investment and financial charges before arriving at a figure for profit.
  4. Turnover is defined as the value of total sales and work done.
  5. Follow us on Twitter .
  6. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office at
  7. The Executive Information Service operates an out-of-hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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