Economic confidence dips to new low

By Abi Thomas


Northland is still the most pessimistic region in the country in Westpac's latest economic confidence survey, but a business leader says there is good news on the horizon.

In Westpac's survey of economic confidence, conducted over the first 10 days of December, Northland's consumer confidence level fell from 100.2 in September to 97.8 in December, sitting equal with Waikato as the least confident region in New Zealand. The national average is 111.1.

Northland's unemployment rate of 10 per cent is the highest in the country and a possible factor in the pessimism.

Northland Chamber of Commerce head Tony Collins said the survey results came as no real surprise, but there were positive signs for the region in the retail, housing, construction and tourism sectors.

"Our retailers have had a reasonably good time recently, as shown by the Paymark spending figures for December," Mr Collins said.

Real estate and construction were also on the up, and there were some positive signs in the marine sector with some big projects. "Construction was the area where we were really hit two years ago, and the Grant Thornton figures show building consents are up on last year," he said.

Tourism was also doing well at the moment, as Northland was enjoying good summer weather and surveys show it was a top destination for New Zealand travellers to spend their holidays.

"That reflects our geographical location, close to Auckland. And as Auckland's economy improves, we can benefit from that."

But it was certainly "not all rosy" and businesses were still struggling, Mr Collins said.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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