Recently released Business Confidence Research, compiled via an online survey of Eurobodalla businesses, has shown a cautiously optimistic outlook across the shire.
Eurobodalla Shire Council engaged Micromex Research and Consulting to undertake analysis of data from the inaugural Business Confidence Questionnaire conducted online during June and July 2021.
The second half of the survey was carried out during the start of the Sydney COVID-19 lockdown, well prior to the local lockdown, but indicated a mix of optimism and concern from businesses that is likely to be similar when restrictions are lifted.
The major findings show 46 per cent of businesses predict annual revenue to increase over the next 12 months, while only 22 per cent expect it to decrease.
In a similar vein, 30 per cent of businesses predict their number of employees to increase, while only 11 per cent expect a decrease.
To make the survey findings meaningful and retain anonymity, business location was grouped by North, Central and South. Businesses were also grouped as four different industries being white collar, tourism and leisure, blue collar (including construction and agriculture) and retail.
Businesses in all locations predicted an increase in turnover and employee growth, but it was marginally higher for those centrally located.
Businesses that claimed visitors as their main source of trade were significantly more likely to suggest a decrease in turnover and employee growth for the current financial year.
A rather surprising result came from an open-ended question about plans to sell or close their business. One-in-five businesses indicated they were preparing to close or sell, with 21 per cent having been in business for more than 10 years. And it’s not just businesses in distress, as even amongst those who believed their turnover would increase, 16 per cent said they were thinking of closing or selling.
No surprise, the two top challenges facing business are attracting and retaining skilled staff and COVID-19. According to the survey results, the uncertainty and impact of COVID has made it difficult to estimate income, retain staff and maintain productivity levels.
The main ‘external’ opportunities identified related to increasing tourism to the Eurobodalla region, local population growth and increased infrastructure/development.
And in terms of ‘internal’ opportunities, increased sales and marketing (particularly online) and capitalising on future growth/expansion opportunities are also mentioned, indicating
that businesses are looking to adapt and attract customers in new ways.
The survey showed businesses are primarily focused on the short-medium term. However, the summary of the key findings in the report says, “It is clear that businesses should continue to be engaged in council’s strategic decision making regarding the economic development of the region, especially with regards to development, housing and infrastructure needed to support a growing population as well as enabling businesses to thrive”.
While the survey was not intended to gather COVID-related business impacts, it showed the Sydney lockdown did have a significant impact on reducing positive sentiment around turnover and employment growth, but did not impact on intention to close or sell a business. View the full report here.
With an increasing number of people seeking business advice or COVID-19 information on public forums, businesses are being urged to seek information from the source to prevent missing out on support or making mistakes.
Eurobodalla Shire Council’s Economic Development and Place Activation manager Teresa Lever says, “It’s good that people are reaching out for information, but the problem is when people with good intentions provide incorrect information.”
“Directions change and allowances are different across LGAs, so it is really important to go back to official sources for complete information and how it applies to businesses,” Ms Lever said.
“There is so much information out there, it can be hard to work out what is correct. Making decisions with qualified information makes good business sense.”
Visit Eurobodalla Shire Council for more information.