WA small and medium-sized business have become the most upbeat in the country

The West Australian, 12 March 2018

Almost 50 per cent of WA firms reported a real increase in business activity.

WA small and medium-sized businesses are the most upbeat in the country, confident they can ride a wave of changing customer tastes to boost their bottom lines.

A Westpac-Melbourne Institute measure of the small business sector shows growing confidence nationally, but especially in WA, over the past three months.

Small firms are confident about future economic conditions, translating into better plans for investment, with two in five saying they plan to expand, while one-third believe they expect an increase in working hours.

WA firms — which had been among the most downbeat — were the most confident in the nation.

Confidence among WA small firms jumped another 5.2 per cent over the past three months and they are now far more optimistic than small businesses in NSW, Victoria and South Australia. Only Queensland firms were pessimistic.

Optimism is being driven by improving trading conditions which have more than doubled over the past 12 months.

Almost 50 per cent of WA firms reported an increase in real business activity, with the proportion reporting growth outnumbering those going backward for the first time in two years.

A new report predicts better jobs and higher wages for west Australians.

A new report predicts better jobs and higher wages for west Australians.

That confidence is reflected in future prospects with WA firms just behind those in NSW expecting conditions to get even better.

Westpac’s small business banking general manager, Ganesh Chandrasekkar, said firms were increasingly confident about their prospects which in turn was likely to lead to more investment and jobs.

“Australian businesses are continuing to gain confidence each consecutive quarter and in fact are very positive about future conditions, especially compared to a year ago,” he said.

“As a result of this confidence, many have invested and employed more staff.”

Mr Chandrasekkar said small and medium-sized businesses are reporting increased competition and pressure on profit margins because of consumer behaviour changing on the back of new technology.

“However, businesses remain upbeat and see these changes as an opportunity to make investments in things like online marketing to take advantage of these trends,” he said.