Regional businesses growing faster than their urban counterparts

regions, regional businesses, virtual

A new report on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic recovery on small businesses across Australia reveals some unexpected findings, with commerce software company Square’s State of Regional Business Report finding that regional businesses have been outpacing their metropolitan counterparts with 259 per cent more sales since the onset of the pandemic compared to 178 per cent for businesses in metropolitan areas.

The report noted that not only have sales through Square grown faster in regional Australia than metropolitan, so have businesses signing up to use digital payments. More businesses began taking payments with Square since the onset of the pandemic until now compared to the same time period before March 2020, with the pace of adoption growing more quickly in regional areas than in metro areas.

Regional Queensland is home to for four of the top ten fastest-growing regional hubs on the Square platform, with Goondiwindi, on the Queensland/NSW border, top of that list. Port Pirie in South Australia is the fastest growing regional town.

The small-business boom is being driven in large part by a desire to have the freedom to work on their own terms, with nearly 70 per cent of survey respondents agreeing this was the biggest driver of establishing a new business, followed by wanting to be their own boss (55 per cent), and passion for their field of work (39 per cent).

However, while eCommerce served as a lifeline for many businesses throughout the pandemic, only 27 per cent of businesses have an online store. Here, too, the regional/metro divide is noteworthy, with businesses in regional Australia are signing up to Square Online faster than their counterparts in metro areas. Overall, seven in 10 small-business owners are confident about their future prospects but are still concerned about access to capital and having the tools and skills needed to run their business.

“The last two years have shown the entrepreneurial and adaptive best of Aussie businesses,” Colin Birney, Head of Business Development at Square Australia, said. “Our regions have been particularly savvy and turned to technology to help them adapt and enable continued growth.”