CONFIDENCE among Warrnambool business operators has fallen as they grapple with tougher economic conditions.
Only 22 per cent had high to very high confidence for the immediate future, according to results of the third annual Warrnambool Business Survey released this week.
That’s a sharp drop on the 2011 survey, which showed 43 per cent were highly confident and 32 per cent last year.
The general pessimism was also reflected by the higher proportion of operators who had low to very low confidence — 28 per cent, compared with 18 per cent last year and 11 per cent in 2011.
However, 46 per cent indicated a medium level of confidence for the next 12 months and more than one in five said they were financially better off than a year ago.
The survey, undertaken as a partnership between the city council, Deakin University and South West Credit Union, had 354 respondents — 24 per cent more than last year.
Manufacturing, transport and storage, business and service sectors reported the highest levels of confidence while retail, accommodation, hospitality and food and beverage sectors had the lowest.
City council business development manager Tanya Egan said while overall results were less optimistic than previous years there were encouraging signs, particularly in manufacturing.
“We are really pleased with the number of business operators who took the time to complete the survey,” she said.
Commerce Warr-nambool president Richard Montgomery said uncertainty about the federal elections added to lack of confidence.
“People are waiting for the election outcome and how it may stimulate the economy, particularly for larger projects which have a cascade effect on the region,” he said.
“There is still some way to go before we turn the corner, but the medium to long-term future for this region is very exciting.
“I think we are well positioned to have a competitive advantage over other regions.”
The survey shows 36 per cent of respondents felt worse off financially than 12 months earlier compared with 31 per cent last year and 19 per cent in 2011.
Fewer operators (40 per cent) felt the same financially, compared with 49 per cent in 2011.
Internet trading had not changed much for Warrnambool businesses in the past three years.
This year just under half — 45 per cent — of respondents said they generated internet sales.
The survey results can be found on the council’s website.