Annual Business Inquiry

Details on the conduct and results of the Northern Ireland Annual Business Inquiry.



Headline results

Latest Local Unit results – published 22 August 2023

  • In 2021, the income generated by nonfinancial businesses in Northern Ireland (NI), less the cost of goods and services used to create this income, was estimated to be £29.8 billion. This amount represents the approximate Gross Value Added (aGVA) at basic prices of the NI nonfinancial business economy, excluding farming and financial services.
  • 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.

Change between 2020-21

  • The NI nonfinancial business economy, as measured by the Northern Ireland Annual Business Inquiry (NIABI), recorded an increase of £3.6 billion (13.7%) in aGVA from 2020 to 2021.
  • The COVID19 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.
  • The key driver of aGVA growth was the NI Services Industries sector (industry Sections H-S) which increased by £1.3 billion (12.5%) between 2020 and 2021. The majority of aGVA growth in this sector is attributable to the Professional, scientific and technical Section (Section M) which increased by £645 million (32.7%).
  • Transport and Storage within the nonfinancial services sector (Section H) recorded aGVA growth of £361 million (22.9%). There was an increase in the Construction sector (Section F) of £916 Million (34.8%). The Distribution sector (Section G) also increased by £875 million (14.4%).
  • The Production sector (Sections B-E) showed an increase in aGVA of £519 million (7.2%) from £7.2 billion to £7.7 billion.
  • Turnover (i.e. the value of total sales and work done) in the NI nonfinancial business economy as a whole increased by £10.1 billion (14.8%) over the year to £78.1 billion and purchases of goods, materials, energy, water and services increased by £6.1 billion (13.8%) to £50.4 billion.
  • Please note that the 2021 ABI Local Unit publication contains tables only this year. There has been no separate PDF report produced.

Local Unit Note - 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. 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. 

Data from the 2021 Annual Business Inquiry is available on the NISRA data portal here.

Current publication and tables 

NI ABI Questionnaire

For details of changes to the NI Annual Business Inquiry questionnaire for survey year 2014 please see the link below:

NI ABI Questionnaire Guidance Notes

For guidance notes to assit in completing the Annual Business Inquiry questionnaire please follow the link below:

Usage, methods & quality and revisions policy

Archive data

Related statistics

ABI background information

Explanations of methodology and detailed descriptions of terminology

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ABI sample coverage

Details of Annual Business Inquiry sample coverage.

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