Published on Nov 20, 2015

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The latest Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) Small Business Survey recorded a small increase in business conditions for the September quarter.

But are the national results reflected locally?  Some of Cessnock’s main street retailers gave their thoughts about small business confidence and conditions, and some key themes emerged including the importance of shopping locally and the impact of online retail.  Here’s what they had to say:

Cessnock KTM Phil Sargent from Cessnock KTM says there’s a feeling of increased confidence and improved traffic through the store on Saturdays, but it is cautious optimism as people are still holding off spending money as they look for more concrete job and financial security. Phil says Cessnock KTM has been strongly focused on business development and marketing to their key client base, taking advantage of motor cross events and even the recent Postie Bike Grand Prix to reconnect and draw their customers back into Cessnock. Phil reckons events are a great driver of economic prosperity for Cessnock, and notices an increase in traffic through the store whenever a concert or special event is being held in the region. He’d like to see a more strategic approach to supporting small towns affected by major infrastructure projects like the Hunter Expressway – making sure there are mechanisms in place so towns like Kurri Kurri and Branxton are not completely bypassed.
balloonworx Clint Ekert from Balloon Worx says it’s a busy time of the year for him and that confidence is high heading into the holiday season.  Clint says the whole town has a good vibe—a diversity of businesses makes for a vibrant shopping district—and the recent Cessnock On Sale day worked well to get people onto the main street and into shops.  Clint believes Cessnock is powered by small business, and if more people shopped local it would support more employment opportunities for the local government area.
Cessnock SportsPower Tara from SportsPower Cessnock says in spite of still trading out of a smaller shop since the April 2015 storms, confidence is improved from this time last year. Tara says the recent Cessnock On Sale day was a great initiative that considerably boosted sales and traffic in her store.   A key challenge for retail is competition with online shopping and would like to see more people making purchases locally, according to Tara. She says the recent downward movement on the Aussie dollar has helped make in-store pricing more competitive with online pricing, but thinks applying the GST to online purchases would really help support traditional bricks and mortar retail and keep jobs in the local government area.
House Spiro from House Valley says after a few shaky months following the April 2015 storms, business is looking up even if it’s not yet fully recovered. Spiro says from a town perspective things look good; the main street looks well-presented and there are not too many vacant shops. Spiro says he even gets the occasional shopper from Maitland into his store. His focus is on looking for ways to differentiate his store from larger competitors through a diverse product offering and competitive prices. Spiro confirms that although his primary customer base is local, events do draw more customers into his store and he thinks events are a great way to way to build Cessnock’s profile. Spiro reckons it’s time online shopping was treated the same as traditional retail and that a GST on online purchases would help support his business.

About the Small Business Survey

The Small Business Survey gauged the views of 1,487 businesses across many major industries and all parts of Australia.

Sales revenue, profits and employment were up, but the overall mood was tempered by wage and non-wage labour cost pressures.

ACCI CEO Kate Carnell said the improvements were encouraging following a difficult start to 2015, and that it was important governments kept in mind the vital role small businesses play in job creation.

“The recent improvements to conditions are promising…but small business confidence and conditions remain subdued, especially compared to larger businesses,” Ms Carnell said.

“It is crucial that the Government not forget small business when undertaking important policy reforms.

“New small businesses are the biggest contributors to job creation, according to recent research from the Department of Industry, so encouraging small businesses to invest and employ is fundamental to finding jobs for the 740,000 people looking for work.”

Click here to download a complete copy of the survey results.