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BUSI­NESS CON­FI­DENCE among small firms fell fur­ther dur­ing the Septem­ber quar­ter, with hir­ing and in­vest­ment in­ten­tions in neg­a­tive ter­ri­tory for the first time since the GFC.

Ac­cord­ing to ANZ’s quar­terly Busi­ness Mi­cro Scope sur­vey a net 44 per­cent of small busi­nesses are pes­simistic about gen­eral busi­ness con­di­tions, the most since June 2008. Con­fi­dence slipped in both mi­cro firms (0-5 em­ploy­ees) and intermediate-sized busi­nesses (those that em­ploy 6-20 em­ploy­ees) for the quar­ter, but lifted slightly in Septem­ber on a monthly ba­sis.

“While the uptick at the end of the quar­ter sug­gests the low might be be­hind them, pes­simism seems likely to be the main theme for busi­ness con­fi­dence in the year ahead driven by on­go­ing con­cern about reg­u­la­tory changes and the lack of skilled labour,” says An­to­nia Wat­son, ANZ’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Re­tail and Busi­ness Bank­ing.

"Our com­pos­ite growth mea­sure for small firms – a proxy for GDP growth – slipped to an­other nine-year low, tee­ter­ing on the edge of ex­pan­sion at +0.8. Firms’ ac­tiv­ity out­look re­mains pos­i­tive, but hir­ing and in­vest­ment in­ten­tions turned neg­a­tive and profit ex­pec­ta­tions slid fur­ther into the red.

“This sug­gests small firms con­tinue to see rea­son­able de­mand for their goods and ser­vices but per­haps some dif­fi­culty in pass­ing on ris­ing costs to con­sumers.”

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