Melbourne small businesses optimistic despite lockdown

Despite experiencing more stringent lockdowns and restrictions due to the higher number of COVID-19-related incidents, Melbourne’s small businesses are becoming more optimistic of their outlook for the next 12 months.

According to the newly-released September Sensis Business Index, 35 per cent of Melbourne small businesses believe the Victorian economy will be better in a year compared with 17 per cent when they were asked the same question last month. On a national economic perspective, 26 per cent believe the economy will be better in 12 months compared to 14 per cent last month.

Sensis CEO John Allan expressed surprise at such optimism, saying, “Melburnians have been in lockdown for more than 80 days which is longer than the 77 days in Wuhan. But despite that, they still have belief in both the Victorian and Federal economies bouncing back.”

When asked about their state’s economy over the next 12 months, 59 per cent of Melbourne small businesses said the Victorian economy would be worse in a year but 35 per cent saying it would be better. Perth was the least pessimistic with just 27 per cent saying the WA economy would be worse against the national average of 45 per cent.

The research also noted the impact of the Federal Government’s JobKeeper scheme as 44 per cent of Australian businesses stated that they would not have survived without it.

“But when looking at it from a state perspective, JobKeeper was way more important in Melbourne, at 62 per cent, compared to Hobart, which was nearly half of that at 33 per cent,” Allan said. “When you look at it from an industry perspective, hospitality was at 65 per cent, retail at 42 per cent but construction was only at 30 per cent. A lot of industry experts were saying that perhaps JobKeeper should have been tiered.”

The survey also asked small businesses about how important JobKeeper will be over the coming months with 47 per cent of businesses saying it was critical.

“The biggest difference was comparing Melbourne to Sydney with a massive 78 per cent of Melbourne small businesses saying it was critical but just 31 per cent in Sydney. That is a vastly different outlook,” Allan said. “Looking at it from an industry perspective JobKeeper moving forward is most critical for culture and recreation at 63 per cent, transport at 62 per cent, hospitality at 59 per cent and retail at 42 per cent.”

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