Qld businesses upbeat as restrictions ease

Queensland business confidence has risen sharply as coronavirus restrictions eased and consumers redirected their interstate and overseas holiday spending in the December quarter.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland’s latest survey shows business’ 12-month outlook for the state and national economy rose from weak to satisfactory over the quarter.

General business conditions, sales and revenue, profitability, employment levels and capital expenditure have all risen to be at satisfactory level, but labour costs are moderate and operating costs are high.

The CCIQ says an easing of social-distancing restrictions imposed on businesses and a dramatic shift in consumer spending away from interstate or overseas holidays contributed to the lift.

CCIQ economist Jack Baxter said it was the third consecutive quarterly rise in sentiment out of the record lows of early 2020.

“There has been an encouraging uplift in business conditions across all of the economic outlook and performance indicators that now exceed their respective 10-year averages,” he said in a statement on Monday.

“Contributing to the improvements was the complete implementation of staged easing of restrictions, an increase in discretional spending, and general improvements to travel within Queensland.”

The CCIQ said the more viable operating environment had made more than two thirds of businesses confident of surviving after the federal government winds back JobKeeper in March.

The survey showed that businesses were also hopeful the rollout of coronavirus vaccines this year will further improve operating conditions.

The chamber warned that despite conditions being above their 10-year averages, they had been low for much of the decade after the Global Financial Crisis.

The report urged the state government to embark on bold reform of its ‘inefficient taxes and transfers’ to help businesses recover from COVID-19 and boost stagnant productivity growth.

“Businesses cannot afford a continuation of underperformance and are calling for the government to focus on productivity as a means to push the quality of living in Queensland,” the report said.

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