Dubbo retailers will survive despite their hard slog through the current time of lows, a leader says.
Lack of confidence, profitability and growth had bitten Dubbo businesses similarly to those across the state, Dubbo Chamber of Commerce president Sandy Dunshea said.
As the chamber prepared to celebrate success at the Rhino Outstanding Business Awards tonight, survey results released yesterday showed the worst levels of business confidence in NSW in two years.
Metaphorical rain clouds above did not make Mr Dunshea despair.
Dubbo retailers were resilient, he said, and he remained optimistic.
"Times are going to get better - but please don’t ask me when," he said.
The latest NSW Business Chamber and Commonwealth Bank Business Conditions Survey painted a sober picture.
Mr Dunshea, who moved to Dubbo more than 25 years ago, was not surprised by its results.
People had changed their spending habits, he said.
"They’re saving more now than 10 years ago," he said.
Retailers who provided the essentials for living were faring better than those who relied on discretionary spending, he said.
It was the same story across regional centres from Tamworth to Wagga Wagga, he said.
About 35 per cent of businesses reported that the current performance of the NSW economy was weaker than the previous quarter, the survey found.
More than 40 per cent of businesses reported a deterioration in profitability and 25 per cent of businesses reported a tightening of access.
The view was supported by the state’s unemployment data, which had increased from 4.6 per cent to 5.5 per cent in the past 10 months and resulted in the loss of 18,000 full-time jobs, NSW Business Chamber boss Stephen Cartwright said.
There was also concern about increasing wage rates and skill shortages during a time when employment growth had been flat, he said.
Mr Cartwright urged businesses to offer value to customers, reduce costs and work for growth as a way of holding on, and Mr Dunshea agreed.
The Dubbo chamber president also hoped the Rhinos, with its expected crowd of 500 people, had helped fuel the economy.
Women may have shopped for frocks and "the blokes" for a new suit especially for tonight.
"I’d like to think everyone did because the retailers in Dubbo would benefit," Mr Dunshea said.