Support WA small business to drive future growth

Ninety-seven per cent of businesses in WA are small businesses, making it a critical driver of the State’s future growth.

To celebrate Small Business Day, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCI) is calling on all West Australians to play their part in supporting the lifeblood of Western Australia’s economy by buying from their local small business tomorrow.

Since 2013, many businesses have been experiencing challenging economic conditions where operating margins have been eroded and growth constrained, with small businesses bearing the brunt of the triple threat – weak consumer demand, online competitors and rising labour costs.

New research by CCI of WA small businesses, as part of our WA Super-CCI Business Confidence Survey, has identified that despite the considerable pressure small businesses have been under to maintain viable operations and continued employment of staff in challenging economic conditions, there is renewed optimism for the future.

One out of two (50%) WA small businesses are expecting stronger economic conditions over the next 12 months and the proportion of those anticipating better economic conditions for the next quarter is expected to double to 22 per cent compared to this quarter.

Twenty-five per cent of small businesses are expecting to increase employment but the majority are anticipating no change in capital expenditure (66%) or profit margins (52%). One in three considered weak demand as the biggest barrier to growing their business, followed by rising operating costs (17%) and availability of skilled labour (15%).

At CCI, we are proud that 90 per cent of our members are small businesses, because we recognise the significant contribution they make to our State and our country. Small businesses contributed $48 billion to WA’s economy last year alone and employed more than 490,000 West Australians.

Only 69 per cent of micro businesses survived the 2016-17 financial year, which means it is up to every West Australian to play their part in supporting the businesses that give so much back.

WA retail is a key sector that is vital to our economy, with over 120,000 employees who contribute over $8 billion to the State’s economic growth. Retail is being crunched from all sides by sluggish consumer demand, online competitors and the State Government’s restricted trading hours.

The State Government enforcing the most restrictive retail trading hours in the country is pushing shoppers online, hindering the State’s attractiveness as a global tourism destination and threatening WA retail jobs in the process.

CCI urges the State Government to commit to removing these unfair restrictions on WA local businesses to bring us in line with the rest of the country’s trading hours. As a first step, we urge the State Government to review its decision to reduce extended Christmas trading hours by 30 per cent this year.

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