Confidence appears to be slowly seeping back into Australia’s small business sector, with a sunnier outlook on sales and profitability starting to take hold, according to new figures.
The quarterly Sensis Business Index, which quizzes 1,800 firms over their prospects, found that sales performance was up 6% on the previous quarter, while profitability also rose, although it remained at a net negative level overall, where it has remained for the past four years.
The report picked up concerns over the economic climate and a potential downturn in work levels, although there is growing confidence that conditions will pick up in the coming year.
More than half of small businesses believe that sales will increase next year, the highest level of confidence in more than 12 months, while profitability expectations were up 6%.
Across the nation, confidence levels are highest in the Northern Territory, while positive feelings rose in NSW, Victoria and South Australia.
Conversely, Queensland has the lowest level of business confidence, at a net balance of 12%, while WA, Tasmania and the ACT also saw dips in expectations.
Report author Christena Singh says conditions appear to be recovering, although uncertainty is still rife.
“There is clearly increasing confidence surrounding the longer term outlook, but it should be pointed out that certain concerns remain about shorter-term business conditions,” she says.
Meanwhile, Australia’s online economy is continuing to grow at a healthy pace, with figures released by NAB showing that the sector has achieved sales of $12.3 billion in the year to October.
Online sales have now grown 26% year-on-year compared with just 14% year-on-year in May, with domestic retailers accounting for 74% of sales.