A recent business sentiment survey conducted throughout the Waikato has revealed that most Waipā businesses are confident in the future of the district's economy.

The Waikato Business Sentiment Survey is the first of its kind to be carried out in the region.

It was conducted by Te Waka, in partnership with local authorities, chambers of commerce, regional tourism organisations, business associations and other economic development partners in the region.

In total, 589 Waikato businesses took part in the survey. Of these, 53 were Waipā businesses.

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"It's pleasing to see most Waipā businesses are confident in their future outlook," says Waipā mayor Jim Mylchreest.

The survey showed that 34 per cent of participating Waipā businesses believes the district's economy will remain the same, while 23 per cent believes it will improve.

Furthermore, it revealed that Waikato businesses are more optimistic about the region's performance than they are about the New Zealand economy as a whole.

Twenty-three per cent of participating businesses believes that the region's economy will remain the same, while 25 per cent believes that it will improve.

Some businesses in particular sectors are more optimistic than others, says Te Waka chairman Hamish Bell.

"While we need to acknowledge the challenging economic environment, there is optimism in certain sectors. Notably the professional services sector, including administration and support services, and the agriculture sector," says Hamish.

"These sectors have shown the fastest growth within the region since 2000 and it is understandable that they are more upbeat."

Majority of the businesses' actual sales compared to last year for the period of March to
May either remained the same or had dropped, 28 per cent reported that their sales had lowered by more than 50 per cent.

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Only half were confident that their sales compared to last year for the period of July to December are going to remain the same or increase.

"Despite the lack of planning, the survey results indicate that Waikato businesses feel they have a handle on the current economic situation; even though many have been forced to apply for wage subsidies and have seen sales drop," says Hamish.

The survey results revealed worrying trends related to business planning and preparedness.

For businesses with 1-10 employees, 50 per cent do not have business plans, 58 per cent have no cash flow forecast and 78 per cent have no business continuity plan.

"They need to start thinking ahead about future scenarios. It's imperative they are ready to quickly respond to a rapidly changing environment and remain agile," says Hamish.

The survey showed that 75 per cent of participating Waipā businesses have accessed Government assistance of some kind.

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"I'd also like to encourage them to meet with Te Waka's business advisers to find out what support is available at a regional level. Being strategic, nurturing talent and providing training opportunities to upskill or retrain will be key success factors," says Jim.