Results from the recent Central New Zealand business confidence survey reveals that Porirua businesses are feeling optimistic about their own businesses, but concerns remain about the national outlook says the Porirua Chamber of Commerce. 

The survey was conducted during a 12-day period between the 3rd and 14th August, including three days when New Zealand changed alert levels, Auckland to level three and the rest of the country to level two. 

"The joint survey was in the field during the transition up the COVID alert levels, and showed businesses responding as we would expect after the move up alert levels,” says Hamish Mexted, Porirua Chamber of Commerce Chair. 

“The economic indicators were telling us that activity was bouncing back to an extent, Kiwis were getting out and supporting their local businesses. This was reflected in the early confidence numbers. We have seen local spending bounce back in Porirua City as well, which is a good thing. The opportunity from people supporting local, and in turn, business employing locals, can't be overlooked. 

“However, following the August 11th announcement most indicators remained the same or were worse than our May survey results. While this makes sense, there is a concern that it’s a sign of things to come. Had we continued in level one, we believe the trend would mean [REMOVE]  we would have seen improved confidence numbers across all five indicators at a regional level.  

"Overall, Porirua businesses’ confidence in the New Zealand economy dropped further from May with a net 72 per cent expecting the national economy to be worse in 12 months’ time. A significant majority of the business community are also expecting the regional economy to be worse in 12 months’ time, with a net 21 per cent of respondents responding negatively. 

"A small sign of optimism within the business community, however, is the improvement in businesses’ expectations of their own situation in 12 months’ time, net neutral. Just over 30 per cent expect it to be better, 38 per cent the same, and 30 per cent worse. Businesses’ are also expecting their own earnings to worsen, with a net 5 per cent responding negatively.  

"The survey also asked respondents about barriers to business and the open-ended results were telling. Before the alert level announcement, regional results showed consumer behaviour and staffing issues were the top two issues, 22 and 21 per cent of respondents had some issue relating to these barriers, respectively. 

"But after the alert level announcement, direct mentions of ‘COVID’, ‘lockdown’, and ‘virus’, jumped from 11 per cent to 40 per cent. 

"COVID and the alert level change certainly influenced businesses’ immediate concerns and created an uncertain environment as businesses had to re-adjust back to life under level 2 restrictions.” 

The quarterly survey was sent to Wellington Regional Chambers of Commerce, including Porirua, and Business Central members across New Zealand - from Gisborne and New Plymouth down to Nelson. There was a total of 335 responses, 275 responses were before the alert-level announcement, and 60 responses came after the announcement was made. 

The next quarterly business confidence survey will take place in November 2020. 

For further comment contact Hamish Mexted 021 752 270.