Business confidence in the Illawarra fell sharply in the third quarter of 2021, as an expected result of lockdown, according to the region’s peak business organisation, Business Illawarra, based on its latest Business Conditions Survey.
The survey, conducted throughout September when the region was deep in the 106-day lockdown, showed the majority of Illawarra businesses viewed the economy as getting weaker (85 percent). Most were also expecting profits to be down (73 percent), but despite these figures, most (66 percent) were indicating their staff numbers would remain the same.
“These survey results put beyond doubt that business confidence in our region dipped to a new low during the ongoing lockdowns before the release of the Government’s ‘roadmap to recovery’ released at the end of September,” said Business Illawarra Executive Director, Adam Zarth.
“Thankfully now with the economy reopening, we are seeing strong signs of life with vibrancy returning to our shopping centres and vaccinated locals back out and about supporting their local businesses.”
“The range of additional support measures introduced by governments, along with the reopening roadmaps and economic recovery plans, has been crucial to keeping businesses afloat and has allowed the ‘snap back’ to better business conditions that we are seeing now.”
“Among those we surveyed, the most frequently accessed supports have been JobSaver and the COVID-19 Business Grants, with (50 per cent) and (41 per cent) of businesses respectively reporting having accessed these initiatives.”
“Over (50 per cent) of recipients indicated that they would have closed without these supports and (27 per cent) reported that this assistance resulted in a higher headcount than would otherwise occurred.”
“There was a slight improvement in liquidity across businesses unable to operate in lockdown from having enough cash to survive for 3.5 months, from only 1.1 months in July prior to the implementation of the COVID-19 assistance programs.”
“Signs have been positive since our 11 October reopening that local economies will quickly get back to where they were prior to a horror two years for our region’s business community.”
“For many businesses, a busy trading period going into the new year while regrouping and re-establishing their customer base and staff capabilities will be critical to restoring confidence for 2022,” said Mr Zarth.