Businesses looking forward to a Christmas bonus

MOST Northern Rivers businesses expect Christmas to deliver a bonus this year, but they don't see a need to employ more staff to capitalise on the festive season.

These were among the key findings of the latest quarterly Griffith University-Northern Star business confidence poll.

Almost half of respondents, 48%, expect better Christmas results than last year, with 8% highly positive, 28% neutral and 16% negative with their projections.

Griffith University Pro Vice Chancellor (Business), Professor Michael Powell, said while it was hoped Christmas would deliver greater business joy, the outlook for the local economy during the next quarter was at best cautiously optimistic.

"The fact that a substantial majority, 80%, are not planning to put on more staff reflects a steady as it goes approach to the holiday season," Professor Powell said.

"Most businesses also indicated that the prevailing weather was having a negative impact on business and more favourable conditions during the holiday season would help to boost tourism as well as general confidence."

Forty-four per cent of respondents were positive about the performance of the Northern Rivers economy generally over the next three months (up 4%), but 20% held negative views (the same as at July) with 12% highly negative (up 12%).

The most positive response of the poll was in relation to the retail sector with 40% of respondents positive, 34% neutral and 22% negative.

In regard to tourism, highly positive levels rose from 12% to 20%, positive responses were 44% (down by 8%), with 24% neutral.

"The number of employers looking at increasing staff levels has halved since July, sitting at 24 per cent (down 12%)," Professor Powell said.

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