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Central NZ Business Confidence Plummets Amid COVID-19 Shutdown

Business confidence has plummeted to record lows, according to a survey by the Wellington Regional Chambers of Commerce and Business Central.

"This is not unexpected given the current COVID-19 situation. Overall, central New Zealand business expectations dropped to record low levels, with a net 60 per cent of respondents expecting the economy to be worse in 12 months' time," says Wellington Chamber and Business Central Chief Executive John Milford.

"Businesses' confidence in their own prospects, as well as the regional economy, also dropped over the quarter. With net 13 percent and a net 45 percent of businesses saying thing will be worse for their business and region over the next 12 months respectively."

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 during a 15-day period in March and received 437 responses.

The survey closed the day before the Government moved to COVID-19 alert Levels 3 and 4.

"When we asked respondents what the biggest barrier their business is currently facing, 48 percent mentioned COVID-19 to some extent," says Mr Milford.

"We would expect this to be higher now the Government has activated COVID Alert Level 4.

"When asked specifically about the outbreak and the impact for their business, 97 percent of respondents said there would be some level of impact. 57 percent of respondents said there would be serious-significant impact on their business or organisation. Again, we would expect this to be higher now.

"The second highest barrier to business, consumer behaviour (14 percent of responses), is in direct relation to COVID-19, with respondents finding clients and customers more hesitant when purchasing goods and services, due to the current uncertainty.

"Finding skilled labour was the third highest barrier to business (10 percent). Staffing issues is usually the number one barrier businesses have, however given the current circumstances, businesses have other difficulties, and the slow-down in business is having a negative effect on business growth and employment.

COVID-19 & the Impact on Business

"This quarter, we also asked respondents several questions related to business preparedness in times of disruption.

"When asked if their business or organisation had any contingency planning in place, 17 percent of the respondents did not have any contingency planning in place whatsoever. 21 percent of respondents believed they had excellent contingency planning in place.

"We also asked whether businesses were covered by business interruption insurance. 20 percent said they had no form of business interruption insurance, and 40 percent said they did have some form of the insurance. 34 percent said they were unsure.

The next survey will take place in May.

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