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Businesses running on empty, close to giving up, latest survey finds

Business

Queensland business owners were in a financial and emotional turmoil because of lockdowns which have forced many to use a large chunk of their personal savings to keep afloat, according to a survey.

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The survey from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland revealed a business community on the brink with many suffering mental health problems from the financial stress and uncertainty.

The CCIQ Pulse survey showed business confidence in the Australian economy over the next 12 months dipped by 5.5 points in the quarter to June. 

CCIQ general manager of policy and advocacy Amanda Rohan said almost half of the businesses in the survey said they had contributed on average more than $110,000 to keep their business afloat.

“They reached their limit a long time ago,” Rohan said.

She said while the $5000 payments made available to impacted businesses by the State Government provided some relief it was too little, too late.

“They’re losing up to $65,000 for every three days their business is in lockdown and a $5000 payment in a few weeks’ time does little to help them pay ongoing bills and overheads, maintain their commitment to staff who rely on them for an income and plan their long-term COVID recovery,” Rohan said.

“Until June, the 12 month outlook measurement of businesses confidence dramatically improved for both the Queensland and national economies but the persistent uncertainty continued snap lockdowns caused has brought that to an end and confidence dropped or plateaued for the first time since March 2020. 

“We also saw a decline in business conditions for the first time since March 2020, likely due to a squeeze on businesses’ bottom line from sales declining and increased labor and operational costs with close to one in two businesses indicating their profitability declined in the three months to June.

 “In December businesses told us they expected their business would not survive 2021 if conditions did not improve or they were not offered support and we’re starting to see that prediction become a possible reality.” 

The CCIQ survey revealed that almost 45 per cent of businesses said they or someone in their business had been impacted from mental health challenges attributed to COVID-19 related stressors. 

“Business owners are emotionally and financially exhausted and are desperate to be afforded certainty in their ability to not only survive the immediate impacts of lockdowns but also in their long-term ability to recover,’’ Rohan said.

While the lockdown in 11 local government areas has ended, some restrictions will remain in place, including density limits in businesses.

Some Queensland businesses have been in lockdown for a total of 18 days over four lockdowns this year.

“We’ve been calling on the State Government since March to provide businesses with the essential certainty they need to be able to prepare to not only survive the impacts of lockdowns and the associated immediate cost to their business, but have the resources to make decisions now about how they can best plan for long-term business recovery.

“We need to know what the plan for business is, what will it take for businesses to be guaranteed there will not be future lockdowns, how they will be supported both in the immediate and long-term and what they can be doing now to ensure their business can both re-open after this lockdown and remain viable in the future

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