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Green shoots in business sentiment are emerging following a gloomy few years for NSW businesses.

The Business NSW Business Conditions Survey – the most comprehensive temperature check of the state’s 840,000-plus businesses – has revealed signs of an uptick in business confidence.

Business owners in 17 of 19 industries are feeling less concerned about the next quarter than they are about the current one.

A pause in interest rate rises and softening inflation figures are beginning to ease business concerns.

Business NSW Regional Director Kellon Beard said some businesses expect business conditions to stop worsening or even begin to improve in the next quarter.

“While worries about interest rates are subsiding, consumers’ reluctance to spend remains a key risk to the business outlook,” Mr Beard said.

“It’s never been a better time to support small businesses, go out there and shop in your local community.

“Businesses are still recovering from the skills shortage nightmare during the pandemic.”

Mr Beard said many employers are ‘staff hoarding’, where they hold onto staff despite cutting deep into profit margins.

“About one in four businesses are looking to lay off staff, but most are keen to either hire or maintain current staffing levels,” Mr Beard said.

The slight improvement in business confidence comes as the Federal Government today announces details of a new round of industrial relations changes, which will have a negative impact on businesses overall.

The headline Business Confidence Index has rebounded to -68.2 in the third quarter of 2023, from -70.8 in the last quarter.

“A multi-speed business environment has emerged, with some enterprises expecting to shut down and some anticipating major success in the financial year 2023-24,” Mr Beard said.

“Conditions are still tough, but the most common response from businesses is that they will have just enough to survive.”

Key findings from the survey of more than 1000 businesses include:

  • 85% of respondents believe they would be able to raise emergency finance for their business.
  • 62% intend to maintain the same headcount for the next three months, while 23% expect to cut staff and 15% expect to hire additional staff.
  • 36% have experienced cyber incidents in the past 12 months; this includes unsuccessful hacking attempts.
  • 50% of respondents have experienced an online scam in the past 12 months; this includes unsuccessful scam attempts.

Find the latest BCS here:

About Business NSW

Formerly the NSW Business Chamber, Business NSW is the peak policy and advocacy body which has been representing businesses in NSW since 1826.