Energy costs, the impact of the drought and the uncertainty over the NSW and Federal elections have all contributed to subdued confidence felt by business owners across the state, according to the latest quarterly survey by the NSW Business Chamber.

Illawarra businesses reflected a slight improvement in business confidence in the region, rising six-and-a-half index points from the September quarter to be slightly above state average.

However there was a drop in Illawarra businesses reporting they had suitably skilled staff, dropping from 78.3% in the September quarter to a below-average 55% in the December quarter.

“Successive surveys are indicating that business conditions have become more challenging and that momentum has slowed,” said Adam Zarth, Executive Director of the Illawarra Business Chamber.

“Across the state, confidence is down as businesses face tougher trading conditions. The NSW economy faces headwinds from international markets, volatility in the housing sector and rising operating costs.”

“While sales revenue across the state continued to fall, which is particularly disappointing given that many businesses rely on the pre-Christmas period to boost sales, this was not observed in our region, with the Illawarra weathering this storm somewhat.”

“We see an upswing in Total Sales Revenue of 20 index points compared to the September 2018 quarter. It is also encouraging to see Illawarra businesses are continuing to invest, with Total Capital Spending up 20.6 index points.”

“Business sentiment in the Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven has been impacted across the board, with respondents’ expectations for the March quarter very pessimistic. While this is a smaller sample size, it represents a consistently negative trend.”

“With the NSW State election less than two months away, it is vital that all political candidates understand the true nature of current business conditions and just how important it is to have policies that assist business to invest and create new jobs. In the Illawarra, Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands, business confidence is subdued and we will be looking to candidates to articulate what their parties will do to address this.”

“This is why the Illawarra Business Chamber is backing our state chamber and campaigning on the platform of Keeping NSW Number 1. While our economy is the strongest in the country, businesses look to government to create the conditions necessary for to keep the state moving forward, and businesses are telling us that there is much to be done.”
 
State-wide survey results can be accessed at this link.
Regional survey results can be accessed at this link.