- Small and medium business (SMB) confidence levels decreased 16 points
- 26 per cent of SMBs believe the economy is slowing
- WA business confidence was hit the hardest, dropping 32 points
The Sensis Business Index has revealed small business confidence fell across the nation as SMB owners express concern around the health of the Australian economy.
The Sensis Business Index is a quarterly report which measures SMB expectations and confidence over a three-month period. The March report, released today, revealed small and medium business (SMB) confidence levels decreased 16 points to +34, its lowest level since March 2016.
Sensis Chief Executive Officer John Allan said in the lead up to the election, support for the government was high, however, this had little impact on business confidence.
“On the one hand, Small and Medium Business ratings of the Federal Government reached one of the highest levels recorded in the last 10 years with 26 per cent supportive but on the other, overall business confidence fell significantly with concern about the strength of the economy,” Allan said.
Five states or territory governments measured positively in the confidence stakes. Tasmania rated highest (down three points to +26), the lowest rating was again recorded in Queensland (down four points to -23) while the largest fall was experienced by the ACT Government (down 17 points to -19).
Meanwhile, confidence in the state of the economy decreased by eight points to -4, the first negative balance recorded since June 2015. Twenty-six per cent of SMBs believe the economy is slowing and 52 per cent believe it is standing still.
WA business confidence was hit the hardest, dropping 32 points to +20, followed by Victoria (down 24 points to +32) and Queensland (down 23 points to +32). Despite declines, ACT and NSW remained above the national average at +45 (down 1 point) and +35 (down 7 points) respectively.
While South Australia proved an anomaly, with small business confidence reaching an all-time high of +56 (increasing five points from last quarter).
“The Tasmanian and South Australian governments continue to lead the way in terms of Small and Medium Business support, with confidence in the policies of the South Australian Government at a 6-year high,” said Allan.
Amidst tightening legislation, access to finance was also a concern for SMBs.
“Small and Medium Business’ ability to access finance is critical for capital expenditure and growth,” said Allan.
“Fewer SMBs attempted to access finance during the March 2019 quarter than in December, with the majority believing this to be the most difficult time to access finance in the past seven years,” Allan concluded.