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Aussie business expectations continue to deteriorate

bad outlook forecast

The nation’s businesses are still suffering from low expectations for their conditions and business conditions in general, according to the latest Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) Business Expectations Survey.

The findings of the research, which saw over 2,000 Australian businesses surveyed, revealed a gloomy outlook from the March quarter. The negative assessment of the Australian economy for the coming year marks the fourth quarter in a row with a poor outlook. General business conditions were down for the third quarter in a row, while businesses’ outlooks for their own conditions dropped for the fifth consecutive quarter.

“These Business Expectations Survey results are deeply concerning for business operators and the economy as a whole. This shows that businesses are taking an extremely cautious approach, with some battening down the hatches ahead of heavy weather,” Kate Carnell AO, CEO of the ACCI, said.

“Next week’s Budget gives the Government an opportunity to restore some confidence to businesses and consumers. Businesses are looking for credible reform from the Federal Government and need to know that there are plans to bring the Budget under control and protect Australia’s AAA credit rating. Only once there is greater certainty about the future will consumers feel confident to spend and businesses confident to invest.”

The results saw falls in June quarter expectations focusing on profits, employment, overtime utilization, export sales, selling prices, investment in buildings and structures, and investment in plant equipment. The only measure with positive expectations was that of sales revenue, with both wage and non-wage labour costs forecast to remain elevated.

Scott Kompo-Harms, Senior Economist at the ACCI, said the results highlight the poor expectations within the small business sector.

“Small businesses appeared to be gloomier than their medium and large counterparts,” Mr Harms said.

“Businesses with fewer than 20 employees were least likely to invest in plant and equipment, were most downbeat about employment levels and reported the most modest wage growth. This shows that small businesses could benefit greatly from tax relief in the upcoming Budget.”