COSTS have eased forBorder businesses in NSW, but a shortage of skilled workers is causing some concern.
These arekey findings of theNSW Business Chamber’s latest business conditions survey.
Murray-Riverina regional managerBen Foley said there wereclear signs that some business owners were starting to experience relief from the “ever-increasing” operating costs reported in previous surveys.
Mr Foley said that was consistent with survey results from across NSW.
“For three consecutive quarters we have seen a steady increase in the number of businesses reporting higher operating costs, driven primarily by rising gas and electricity bills as well as labour and staff related costs,” he said.
“Fewer Murray-Riverina businesses reported that operating costs had increased over the past three months.”
But Mr Foley saidit wasn’t all positive news for the region’s businesses, withtotal sales revenue and staff numbers declining slightly.
“Twenty-six per centof Murray-Riverina businesses reported difficulty accessing suitably qualified staff, which is higher than the state-wide average but a slight improvement on last quarter,” he said.
The Printer Wizard ownerGreg Keen said operating costsfor his North Albury businesshad been “fairly stable” in recent times.
His biggest costs tended to be related to staff, rent and advertising.
“In this last few weeks we’ve received notification that our electricity price will drop, so that was a nice surprise,” he said.
Pressure eases: North Albury businessman Greg Keen says factors such as lower power costs have things looking up after “a fairly torrid couple of years”. It’s a feeling shared by many other businesses. Picture: Peter Merkesteyn
“It’s always good to get a little drop. But outside of electricity going down,everything else is fairly constant.
“We’ve trimmed our business to suit the current economic conditions, so over this past couple of years we’ve noticed a decline.”
But that trend was turned upside down for Mr Keenby this year’s June quarter.
“June was probably the best month we’ve had in years,” he said.
“I’d suspect that the federal government incentive of the immediate $20,000 tax write-off for small business played a big part in that.
“You can see that it’s putting a smile on a lot of business people’s faces. That was a nice feeling after a fairly torrid couple of years.”
Mr Keen said he was probably one of the first businesses to detect a quieter July.
“In this business we’re in of providing printer consumables to a broad range of businesses across Albury-Wodonga, we notice immediately when there’s a downturn,” he said.
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