Northern Ireland Annual Business Inquiry Local Unit Statistics for Non-Financial Businesses 2020

Date published: 29 July 2022

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

2020 Northern Ireland Annual Business Inquiry Local Unit survey.
2020 Northern Ireland Annual Business Inquiry Local Unit survey.

Full detailed results are available in the Northern Ireland Annual Business Inquiry Local Unit Statistics Bulletin and downloadable tables which are available at the Annual Business Inquiry page of the NISRA website.   

Main results

The main results were:

  • In 2020, the income generated by non-financial businesses in Northern Ireland (NI), less the cost of goods and services used to create this income, was estimated to be £26.3 billion. This amount, which was £40 million (0.2 per cent) higher than in 2019, represents the approximate Gross Value Added (aGVA) at basic prices of the NI non-financial business economy.
  • The key driver of aGVA growth was the Production sector (that includes Mining and quarrying; Manufacturing; Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply; and Water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities) which increased by £0.8 billion (12.9 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 £334 million (48.4 per cent).
  • Wholesale and retail trade within the Distribution sector recorded aGVA growth of £68 million (1.1 per cent). The Construction sector recorded a decrease in aGVA of £435 million (14.3 per cent).
  • The NI non-financial Services sector saw a decrease in aGVA, decreasing by £402million (3.8 per cent) from £10.5 billion to £10.1 billion. This was despite a significant increase in aGVA in the Real estate activities section which saw an increase of £338 million (46.0 per cent).
  • Turnover (i.e. the value of total sales and work done) in the NI non-financial business economy as a whole decreased by £5.5 billion (7.5 per cent) from £73.0 billion to £67.5 billion in 2020. Purchases of goods, materials, energy, water and services also decreased, dropping by £3.8 billion (8.0 per cent) from £47.5 billion in 2019 to £43.7 billion in 2020.
  • Further information on the industrial composition of the £26.3 billion aGVA for 2020 can be found at the Annual Business Inquiry page  on the NISRA website.  

Notes to editors: 

1. An enterprise reporting unit reports for all the local units within the enterprise (for example, the reporting unit for a large supermarket chain will respond with aggregate figures incorporating all its Northern Ireland shops).These returns are captured in the Annual Business Inquiry Reporting Unit publication which is available at the Annual Business Inquiry - Reporting Unit Results 2020 page on the NISRA website. A local unit is an individual site (factory, shop, office, etc.) at which an enterprise conducts its business. For example, a supermarket chain may have shops in multiple locations, these are local units. It is the data returned for these local units that is used to create this publication.

2. For industrial classifications a reporting unit is classified based on the dominant activities of the local units. Therefore for the Reporting Unit publication multiple local units which have different standard industrial classifications (SIC codes) will be grouped together under the one reporting unit which has the SIC code of the most dominant local unit. For example, a business (reporting unit) could have multiple sites (local units), one concerned with manufacturing and the other involved in the wholesale and retail trade of their products.  Depending on the level of employment at each site, the reporting unit could either be classified under the Production sector or the Wholesale and Retail trade sector.

3. However for the Local Unit report, the activities of each individual local unit will be reported under the relevant SIC code for that unit. Therefore there will be some differences in the results between the Local Unit and Reporting Unit reports.

4. Public sector bodies, financial services and most of agriculture are excluded from the survey. 

5. For media enquiries, please contact the Department for the Economy Press Office at

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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.

8. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to Daniel Hogg, Economic & Labour Market Statistics Branch (ELMS), on 028 9025 5169 or at

9. Follow ELMS on twitter @NISRA.

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