Improved outlook for small business sector: ANZ

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Staff Reporter

Small businesses, the engine room of the Australian economy, are performing better than sales data may otherwise suggest, according to a report by ANZ.

ANZ’s monthly Small Business Sales Trends report showed that small business sales rose 2.8 per cent year-on-year in April 2012.

“This month’s report again reveals similar trends seen over the past six months, including differences in growth rates between retail and non-retail sectors, and between the mining and non-mining states,” ANZ said.

The report revealed that while retail-related sales remained soft, falling 2.1 per cent on-year, this result may have been influenced by Easter having occurred in early April, with sales in the travel, entertainment and accommodation segments likely to have been recorded in late March.

“Sales in the mining states were again relatively stronger compared with the non-mining states, although the disparity was less pronounced, with sales growth in New South Wales and Victoria comparable with those in Queensland and the Northern Territory,” ANZ added.

“Total small business sales are tracking along reasonably well, however, some sectors are doing much better than others,” ANZ general manager of small business, Nick Reade, said.

“The data also aligns with what we are hearing from small businesses owners – where increased competition and discounting are continuing to affect business conditions.

“Retail businesses are feeling the pressure, although we are seeing some early signs of improvement. The two recent stimulus measures - this month’s interest rate cut and the federal Budget stimulus measures – should boost retail activity over the coming months.

“Despite the economic uncertainty, many small businesses are continuing to invest and we’re seeing a healthy level of start-ups joining the sector. We currently approve nine out of 10 small business loan applications, and around seven out of 10 start-up loans – which businesses are pleasantly surprised at, given the rhetoric about banks not supporting small business,” Mr Reade added.

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