We have refreshed our biannual sentiment survey to improve our understanding of business confidence and priorities in the Waikato region. This survey, conducted in November 2022, reflects a business community that is backing itself to perform in a challenging business environment marked by cost pressures, skills shortages, and ongoing supply chain challenges.
Six key insights:
- Overall net confidence was +8 based on 44% being extremely (10%) or fairly (34%) confidence about their business prospects over the next 12 months against 36% being fairly (27%) or extremely (9%) worried. This is an increase on the score of +1.5 in our February 2022 survey.
- Females and the self-employed, with net confidence scores of +21 and +27 respectively, are markedly more optimistic about their business prospects than males and micro businesses which recorded scores of +5 and -14 respectively.
- Views of the NZ economy currently and for the next year are generally unfavourable. It is seen to be facing many headwinds with cost-related concerns prominent such as cost of living, inflation, fuel prices, interest rates, energy prices, and wages (costs to hire staff). Inflation will be fuelled further with most intending to lift their prices in the next year.
- Views about the economic outlook for the Waikato region are also subdued, albeit not as negative as for NZ at large. Skills shortages across many occupations are considered a major issue for the region (and nation). Calls for Government action and training initiatives are pronounced.
- Supply chain logistics/delivery times are seen as another major challenge for Waikato businesses and Government investment to facilitate movement of people and supplies is considered a high priority need. Despite this, half-priced public transport in the region has not benefitted many businesses, with far greater importance attached to spending on roads and providing affordable housing.
- A third have either taken steps to achieve targets related to climate change (14%) or are currently developing a climate change policy (20%). This is in the backdrop of 46% saying NZ government initiatives/policy/regulations related to climate change will impact their business negatively over the next year and only 9% saying positive.
What this means for the Waikato:
opportunities through turbulent economic times.