Southern business confidence recovers

An infographic showing trends in the reported results of the annual Southland Business Survey. GRAPH: Venture Southland

Results from the 2017 Southland Business Survey show confidence has increased within the Southland business community.

Over 400 Southland businesses are reporting a more positive outlook about the Southland economy than they did a year ago, with tourism and hospitality being the most confident sectors, according to the results of the 2017 Southland Survey.

Seventy eight per cent of businesses say they are positive about the Southland economy and business environment, returning to 2014 levels. In 2016 only 59 per cent of businesses were positive. 

Venture Southland business and strategic projects general manager Steve Canny said the recovery of commodity prices and the tourism boom had had a significant impact on the region’s economic outlook.

“We are excited to see business confidence in the region improving. 87 per cent of Southland businesses are positive about their own business, exceeding the 2014 levels (83 per cent). Business performance in sales remains strong with 92 per cent of businesses experiencing either steady or increased sales, up 12 per cent on 2016, and a record low of 8 per cent are experiencing decreasing sales”. 

He said the most confident sectors were those relating to tourism.

"92 per cent of the tourism businesses and 83% of accommodation and food service businesses are positive about the about the Southland economy and business environment. 96% of tourism and 86% of accommodation and food service businesses are optimistic about the future of their own business.”

Mr Canny said as the global commodity prices continued to rise, they saw a significant change in confidence in agricultural sector, exceeding the 2015 levels. 

"82 per cent of businesses in the agricultural sector are optimistic about the Southland economy and 86 per cent about their own business. 93 per cent are experiencing steady or increasing sales."

The retail sector is not far behind. According to the survey, 71 per cent of businesses in the retail sector are confident in the Southland economy (up from 42 per cent in 2016 and 66 per cent in 2015), and 53 per cent experienced an increase in sales, up from 33 per cent in 2016 and 32 per cent in 2015. Confidence in their own business reached a high of 85 per cent. 

Other survey findings show that attraction of staff is the top issue likely to affect 54 per cent businesses in the next three years, followed by concern about communications, such as broadband quality or cellphone coverage, at 39 per cent.

Over the next year, 57 per cent of businesses plan to invest in staff training and upskilling, 42 per cent in online marketing and 40 per cent in plant/machinery. 

401 businesses participated in this year’s survey. 379 responses were required for a plus or minus 95 percent confidence rating.

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