Editorial: Figures positive for Bay traders

By Dylan Thorne


It says something about the resilience of the Bay's economic sector that many business owners are optimistic about what the next 12 months may bring.

Surprisingly, given the scale of some of the setbacks the region has faced, business confidence in the Western Bay is strengthening.

To put the impact of these setbacks in perspective, apart from house prices, all economic sectors experienced a decline in the year to September 30.

The declines have been partly blamed on the effects of Psa on the kiwifruit industry and Rena wreckage for tourism operators.

Despite the discouraging figures, some business owners are seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

This improving outlook is good news for the regional economy and it is likely to have positive spin-offs for employment.

The latest ASB/Main report, which rates the economic performance of New Zealand's 16 regional council areas, shows a slight lift in activity during the September quarter for the region.

Measures include regional data on employment, construction, retail trade, house prices and wages.

This was supported by a recent Tauranga Chamber of Commerce survey which showed many business owners believed the general business situation in New Zealand was improving.

The chamber says while Psa and the Rena disaster were significant blows for the region, construction was starting to move again.

No doubt Bay business owners will also be encouraged by news that consumers are starting to open their wallets a little bit more.

On Saturday, we reported that there was a slight rise in consumer spending in the Bay of Plenty last month.

Figures from Paymark - which processes 75 per cent of the country's electronic transactions - show a slight rise in spending nationwide during November.

In total, $257.6 million was spent, a 2.6 per cent increase.

The Retailers' Association has described the figures as encouraging but is not predicting a huge bonanza.

Given the enormous challenges faced by the regional economy over the past 12 months, it's good to see the Western Bay's business sector regain confidence.

The increase in spending is also an indication that households are feeling secure enough to loosen the purse strings.

I'm sure this will be welcome news to the Bay's retailers who have grappled with a tough trading environment over the past year and have been pinning their hopes on a boost in Christmas trade to turn things around.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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