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Source: MIL-OSI Submissions

Source: Wellington Chamber of Commerce

The results from a quarterly business confidence survey of Central New Zealand Businesses show clearly why the Government must move to alert level one, says the Wellington Chamber of Commerce and Business Central.
“As expected, businesses are far from optimistic about the next 12 months given the current situation,” says John Milford, Chief Executive of the Wellington Chamber and Business Central.
“Throughout the alert levels, we have been monitoring how businesses are responding, their sentiment and ongoing intentions.
“The most recent results make for sobering reading. Our survey shows that right now, at Alert Level 2, not even a third of businesses are operating as usual. Just 32 per cent of businesses believe they are operating as usual. Two-thirds of businesses continue to struggle, with 31 per cent are operating at less than 60 per cent of capacity.
“We’ve saved lives, now we must save livelihoods. There’s no doubt that the severe restrictions of staying at alert level two means businesses are struggling because customers are staying away and keeping their wallets closed
“If we want Kiwis to remain in jobs, we need to get back to business.
“Further cause for concern, our survey found that 50 per cent of respondents said they would need to restructure or make redundancies as a result of COVID, and that 36 per cent believed that in 12 months their workforce will be smaller than it currently is.
“Businesses’ confidence in their own business, the regional economy, and the national economy are at all-time lows. As is, businesses’ expected earnings and investment over the next 12 months. The three key barriers holding back business at the moment are; consumer behaviour (19.25 per cent), financing and cash flow (15.67 per cent), and the impact of COVID-19 (14.29 per cent).”
The quarterly survey was sent to Wellington Regional Chambers of Commerce and Business Central members across central New Zealand – from Gisborne and New Plymouth down to Nelson over a 15-day period in March and received 362 responses.
“The business community needs continued government action to ensure they can fully operate, keep their workforce employed, and continue to pay their bills.
“A range of suggestions came through the survey, from temporarily re-introducing the 90-day trial for businesses with less than 50 employees, expediting plans for a trans-Tasman bubble, and a continuation of targeted support for struggling sectors.
“We welcome the Government’s recently announced apprenticeship scheme and extension to the wage subsidy eligibility criteria. These changes will help. However, even before COVID our trades were struggling to get the number of apprentices needed – we absolutely encourage our members to take on extra apprentices if they are able.
The next survey will take place in August and will focus on the upcoming election.
Eds note: Net percentage is the balance of sentiment – positive minus negative responses. 
Barriers to Business responses were only listed as COVID-19 related if the qualitative response specifically mentioned COVID-19 or the lockdown.