Confidence is returning to the Hunter business economy, but concerns remain over the costs of doing business, according to the latest quarterly Business Conditions Survey from the region’s peak business policy and advocacy organisation, Business Hunter.
Business Hunter CEO, Bob Hawes, said the survey conducted during April and early May shows businesses no longer feel like they are in ‘crisis mode’ that gripped the economy during the Omicron COVID-19 scourge of January.
“The data shows that support measures implemented by the NSW Government during Omicron had a positive impact and have played a part in restoring confidence that was tanking across the Hunter region from mid-December through to February this year,” Mr Hawes said.
“The Hunter region has actually stood out when compared across the state in its recovery of confidence over the survey period by more than 50 index points. That says a lot about the resilience of the region and the innovation and tenacity of our business sector,” he said.
“There was a particular focus on this survey on business operating costs – with 97% of business owners saying they’d had to make changes to their business due to rising costs of materials, supply chain impacts and some downturn in trade due to staff shortages in many sectors.
Business Hunter explained that the data showed the secondary impact on the cost of doing business was insurance premium increases, with almost 80% of businesses reporting a rise in the cost of insurance in the past year.
“It is troubling to see that many businesses in this survey period have reported increases above 10 per cent, knowing in many cases they have had limited ability to pass these costs on” Mr Hawes said.
“This is above recent rises in inflation and when counted together, these unavoidable increases bite sharply on the profit and loss statements over the months.”
“We know many businesses will be waiting to learn the outcome of the Federal Election and how key decisions of the next government will impact business confidence and address rising costs.