A survey of chambers of commerce from the upper North Island finds the majority of businesses are still operating in some form during lockdown, but around a third doubt they will survive the pandemic.
The survey of around 2000 businesses by the Northern Chambers of Commerce, which takes in Auckland, Waikato, Tauranga and Taupo revealed sharp differences between regions on almost every measure, from likelihood to take the wage subsidy, to redundancy expectations.
It found 61 per cent of businesses were operating to some extent under level four lockdown, but while 75 per cent were operating in Auckland, just 31 per cent were operating in Taupo.
Of the businesses operating, only 11 per cent were operating "full time", however the proportion was much higher in Waikato at 22 per cent, a region with a large proportion of primary industry businesses.
Sixty-four per cent of respondents said they expected their businesses would survive the pandemic (meaning more than a third did not). In Taupo, just 16 per cent were confident they would survive the pandemic.
Taupo Chamber of Commerce president, Rory Scott, said the survey results painted a gloomy outlook for his region with 84 per cent of firms saying they may not survive, reflecting the high number of businesses linked to tourism.
Auckland businesses were both the most likely to be operating and the most likely to take the government support.
"Small and medium businesses are not giving up but struggling with the uncertain environment, and have shown every intent to keep on operating," Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett said.
"But the longer we remain in level four the greater the damage to this sector."
While 95 per cent of Auckland businesses expect to seek government assistance related to the lockdown, only three per cent of Waikato businesses expected to do so.
Waikato Chamber of Commerce Don Good said that business in the Waikato has been strong, especially in farming and technology sectors.
"Less than 10 per cent of businesses are eyeing the Government support schemes, but this could change with an extended level four," Good said.
The news on possible redundancies varied heavily. Across the four chambers, 23 per cent of businesses said they were likely to shed staff, but whereas only three per cent of Auckland businesses said they could look at redundancies, 71 per cent of Tauranga businesses could make cuts.
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley was hoping for a reset of alert levels on Friday.
"Government should consider better support for small and medium businesses through a weekly resurgence package and a more regional approach to lockdown," Cowley said.
Meanwhile, a survey by Business Central, covering chambers across the Lower North Island, found around half of businesses expected to reach out for government support. The organisation called for a further ramp up in the vaccine rollout.
"The consistent message we have received, from both this survey and the hundreds of phone calls we're had, is the only way out of Delta and back to the new normal is through vaccination ramp up. It's key to re-opening New Zealand to the world, and it's key for all Kiwis to get back to work and life," Wellington Chamber of Commerce chief executive Simon Arcus said.