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Businesses gaining confidence in the lead up to Christmas

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The results of the latest Central New Zealand business confidence survey show a gain in confidence in the business community after what has been a difficult year, says the Wellington Chamber of Commerce and Business Central.

"Overall, businesses’ confidence has improved significantly quarter-on-quarter and while there is still room for improvement in some areas, we can say that businesses are the most optimistic they have been all year," says John Milford, Chief Executive of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce and Business Central.

"Confidence in all three areas had improved considerably from the last survey in August. Businesses’ confidence in the New Zealand economy is at net negative 8 per cent (up from net negative 61 per cent), confidence in the regional economy is at net positive 8 per cent (up from net negative 73 per cent) and businesses’ confidence in their own business is at net positive 22 per cent (up from net negative 7 per cent).

"Year-on-year these results are lower than they were 12 months ago, however, with the events of this year, that was certainly expected.

"It is good to see confidence levels up. Although with Christmas around the corner and the holidays to look forward to, there is typically a bump in confidence levels.

"We would also say that the improvement in confidence across the board is due to several other factors. With the elections out of the way and the Labour party receiving a majority of the vote, there is some clarity around the direction of the government. New Zealand’s ability to resume activities at level one restrictions and news of successful vaccine trials will also give businesses hope that the border will soon be open.

"The fact that the Government’s finances, and New Zealand’s employment statistics are stronger than expected at this point also give businesses the impression that things are better than first thought.

"But there are areas to improve on. When we asked members what barriers or issues they are currently facing, nearly a third (32 per cent) of respondents referenced staffing issues, 17 per cent made references to the border closures.

"The two top issues businesses are facing are inherently link. We listen when our members speak to us and it is not low skilled labour that is the major problem, it is specialist skills that are required, but not readily available in New Zealand.

"Businesses are having issues fixing and certifying equipment, training new staff, or growing their businesses because they can’t get critical employees across the border and into quarantine facilities.

"The problem is growing and is already affecting the New Zealand economy.

"Another key issue that has presented itself within the last three months is the disruption to the supply chain network caused by bottlenecks at the ports. Again, this is because of a shortage of skilled port workers.

"Businesses are worried about the supply of both raw materials and commercial goods - especially in the lead-up to Christmas.

"Demand is beginning to outstrip supply simply because things at the port are not moving quickly enough."

The latest business confidence survey, complied by across the Wellington Regional Chambers of Commerce and Business Central, was conducted during a 15-day period between the 16th and 30th of November. The quarterly survey was sent to Wellington Regional Chambers of Commerce and Business Central members across New Zealand - from Gisborne and New Plymouth down to Nelson. There was a total of 237 responses.

The next quarterly business confidence survey will take place in March 2021.

John Milford
027 580 3064
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