NZIER Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion reveals a modest improvement in business confidence for the September quarter, climbing to -52.7 from its previous position at -60.3. However, it’s evident that overall sentiment within the business community remains pessimistic. Trading activity for the next three months improved from -16.6 to -14.2.
One major positive shift observed was the pronounced decrease in reported labour shortages. Fewer businesses now list the challenge of finding labour as their principal operational bottleneck, shifting their concerns instead to a softer demand environment. This transition in concerns implies that the recent hikes in interest rates may be suppressing economic demand in the country.
On the flip side, the easing of capacity pressures hasn’t provided much respite to businesses in terms of costs. A significant 68.2% of respondents noted a rise in their operating costs over the past three months, only a minor reduction from the prior quarter’s 67.1%. Moreover, the inclination to transfer these cost pressures to consumers has subsided, with 57.3% of businesses raising output prices in the recent quarter, down from a previous 68.8%.