Northern Ireland Annual Business Inquiry Statistics 2021

Date published: 23 November 2022

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

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Statistical image

Growth in aGVA, turnover and purchases between 2020 and 2021

The key findings include:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on the economy during 2020, due to (i) lockdown measures being introduced to mitigate its spread and (ii) prolonged periods of business closures. This should be borne in mind when considering the change in ABI estimates between 2020 and 2021.
  • When the figures are viewed in the broader picture of trends observed over the past number of years, the 2021 figures are on par with what might reasonably have been expected were it not for the impact of the pandemic in 2020. Other factors that may go some way to explaining the higher than usual growth observed between 2020 and 2021 include businesses having surplus stock from periods of closure throughout the pandemic and government schemes designed to boost the economy such as the furlough scheme, “eat out to help out” and the high street voucher scheme.
  • Total aGVA was estimated to be worth £30.6 billion at basic prices in 2021. This represented a rise of 19.4% (£5.0 billion) compared to 2020.
  • Turnover for NI businesses increased by 13.6% between 2020 and 2021 to £77.1 billion, while the cost of purchases of goods, services and energy increased by 10.5% to £48.7 billion over the same period.
  • As a result of 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 £5.3 billion (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 the NI Non-Financial Services sector which increased by £1.8 billion (17.9%) between 2020 and 2021.  The majority of aGVA growth in this sector is attributable to the Transport and Storage section which increased by £581 million (39.4%).
  • Retail and Wholesale trade within the Distribution sector recorded aGVA growth of £868 million (14.4%) over the period in question.
  •  aGVA in the Production sector increased by £1.1 billion (15.5%) from 2020 to 2021. The key driver in this was the Manufacturing section, which recorded aGVA growth of £891 million (18.2%).
  • There was an increase in aGVA in the Construction sector of £1.2 billion (47.5%) between 2020 and 2021.
  • Full detailed results are available in the Northern Ireland Annual Business Inquiry Statistics Bulletin at the following link:                                            

Annual Business Inquiry  

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 @ELMSNISRA
  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.
  1. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office at 
  1. 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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