The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland said its Pulse survey showed business conditions were only marginally above this time last year when the Covid recovery was just starting.
However, the Australian Retailers Association had a far more bullish view after official data showed Queensland retail at record levels in September. Its expectation was that Queenslanders would spend $12 billion on Christmas this year.
A separate survey from Deloitte said retailers were putting their faith in the consumer more than at any time in the past decade and expected a big rebound. About 90 per cent expected improved or similar trading conditions over the next 12 months.
The ABS data showed retail turnover was up 5 per cent in September in Queensland and 8 per cent for the year. The result was significantly higher than the national figure which was impacted by the lockdowns in NSW and Victoria.
The ARA said the forecast $12 billion spend was an increase of 12.3 per cent on pre-pandemic conditions in 2019, but slightly down on last Christmas.
“Consumer sentiment is upbeat and border restrictions are easing, which will open the state up to tourists from interstate, providing businesses with an additional boost,” the ARA said.
“Online sales are on a powerful trajectory and we’re predicting a record amount of Christmas shopping will be done online this year.”
However, CCIQ said almost 40 per cent of businesses that took part in its survey indicated sales revenue was down in the September quarter and expectations for the December quarter was for a further weakening.
“Queensland business has endured close to two years of Covid economic conditions and these results show that many are not expecting the December quarter to significantly improve,,’ CCIQ general manager of policy and advocacy Amanda Rohan said.
“We know the State Government’s road map shows borders and the economy will re-open to the fully vaccinated travellers just before Christas but we’ve been saying since April businesses are desperate for clearer details around what new Covid trading conditions mean for them.”
She said business desperately wanted to make the most of the re-opening so they could recoup their losses, but they needed to know what they were up against and how they would be incentivised and protected.