Business confidence abounds in city

City of Sydney

Businesses across the City of Sydney local area have reported a surge in confidence for the first time since the start of the pandemic. In response to the City of Sydney’s recent annual business needs survey more than 75% of respondents said they expect their business will be financially better off in the coming year – a significant improvement from the previous two years.

Clover Moore, Lord Mayor of Sydney said the report was positive news after a few hard years for businesses, adding that it would assist the City of Sydney in the allocation of business grants, capacity building programs and other support.

“The results of this report show that even though Covid is still affecting us, businesses are feeling optimistic about the future,” the Lord Mayor said.

“One of the most important things the City of Sydney is doing is continuing to support businesses with our post-Covid recovery and revitalisation – like how we’ve extended free outdoor dining until June 2025.

“We’re spending more than $530 million in the 2022/23 financial year to help businesses and communities recover from the pandemic, along with maintaining facilities, parks and other public spaces.

“And we’re continuing to work with the state government on a 24-hour economic strategy to help activate the city, with a spread of innovation, cultural, retail activities and events.”

In August, the City of Sydney and Business Sydney invited businesses to take part in the survey and share key insights on their needs, priorities and operational challenges.

Australia’s leading provider of macroeconomics and industry forecasts, BIS Oxford Economics, was engaged to produce a report on the findings.

While the results consider the challenging broader economic outlook, there is an overarching optimistic view with the increasing return of international tourists, students and workers to the city.

Redfern’s Kepos Street Kitchen owner, Michael Rantissi said that despite customers being more cautious on their discretionary spending due to the rising cost of living, he feels positive about the future of his business.

“We’ve been lucky to be able to operate throughout Covid, thanks to an incredibly supportive local community. We started with one product in our deli-fridge takeaway range and now stock 65 products,” Michael said.

“We’ve also just celebrated our 10-year anniversary and have a new venue at Carriageworks.

“While the last two years have been difficult, there is a lot to look forward to.”

The report identifies the needs of businesses can be broadly split between office-based and consumer-dependent businesses. Consumer-dependent businesses are seeking greater levels of precinct activation, while office-based businesses tend towards support for finding skilled workers and reducing red tape.

Key highlights in the report include:

  • three in every four respondents expect they will be financially better off in 12 months
  • the local economy has recovered to pre-pandemic levels, though uneven across some sectors
  • the return of students, tourists and migrants is set to drive economic growth during 2023
  • from 2023 onwards, economic growth in the City of Sydney is expected to outpace both the state and

national average

  • after a tough few years, the hospitality sector is set for a strong recovery
  • overseas permanent migration is set to return with force in 2023
  • two-thirds of businesses reported their staffing levels in 2022 increased or remained the same

compared to May 2021. 90% of these businesses also expect their staffing levels to remain the same or increase over the next year.

While the overarching theme is optimistic, the report also highlights the broader economic challenges for businesses. Current business needs include financial support such as business grants, promotional and marketing support for precincts, assistance with seeking employees, and calls for less red tape and regulation.

The City of Sydney will consider all insights from the report, examine the opportunities and challenges, and work closely with the NSW Government and other key industry bodies including Business Sydney to help shape future support initiatives.

“It’s great to see the crowds visiting the city on weekends, restoring the city’s mojo as the weather improves,” said Paul Nicolaou, executive director, Business Sydney.

“This valuable survey confirms that we need to find clever ways to encourage and induce employees back to the office.

“We also need to work hard on changing attitudes and habits to get more workers and visitors into the city streets mid-week, to boost the vibrancy of our country’s number one tourist destination and economic driver of the NSW economy.

“The return of international visitors was viewed by many as playing a big role in the return to pre-pandemic economic activity and this is happening slowly but surely, so we must work together to attract more travellers especially now that the sun is shining again.

“The government’s $60 million fund to attract international airlines to resume flying into Sydney is an example of government working with business to restore tourism. We need to bring our city to life to make it the best experience for visitors.”

The report also highlights that business needs are changing and continuing to change as the environment improves. To support this, the City of Sydney recently developed a new economic strategy discussion paper, which sets out a plan to support long-term economic growth and prosperity across the city centre and local area.

Proposing 4 strategic directions – transition to a green and circular economy, build an innovation economy, strengthen our inclusive economy and revitalise our city centre – the City of Sydney has invited feedback from businesses, employers, workers and the wider community to help ensure it continues to support a prosperous, innovative and inclusive economy.

Consultation on the economic strategy discussion paper runs until 5pm Friday 16 December on the City of Sydney’s website.

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