Thursday, 11th March, 2021

Business Confidence Survey February 2021

Analysis Wanaka Only Data

Business Confidence in the Upper Clutha is expected to deteriorate in the next three months according to the results of a recent survey of 112 local businesses on business sentiment, economy and key indicators of business success.

Conducted in conjunction with the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce and supported by Lake Wanaka Tourism, Destination Queenstown and QLDC’s Economic Development arm, the survey was open to all businesses across the district.

Looking at the Upper Clutha data alone, when asked whether businesses consider the general economic situation will improve, stay the same or decline in the next 3 months, 56.25% of respondents said their own business situation would deteriorate, which rose to 77.68% when considering the wider Queenstown Lakes District and reduced to 33.93% when considering the whole of New Zealand. The sentiment was the same across all sectors.

When it comes to business capacity, there was an almost even split (21-23%) between businesses operating at less than 25%, 25-50% and 51-75% of their pre covid capacity. This compares to 27.68% of businesses reporting they are operating at 76-100%, with little impact on their business since covid hit. 

This trend shifts when taking into account tourism only businesses*, with only 17.91% of businesses expecting to be between 76-100% capacity and more businesses operating at a lower level (less than 25% and 25-50%) than the overall business economy.

At what % are you currently operating?

All sectors

Tourism Only

0% (not currently operating)



less than 25%



25% - 50%



51% - 75%



76% - 100%




When asked what impact an open travel border with Australia would have on their current business level, there were differing thoughts from businesses, based on their sector. Across all sectors, 24.11% of respondents said business would stay the same, while 32.14% said business would increase up to 25% and 19.64% said business would increase between 26-50%.

What impact would an open border have on your business?

All sectors

Tourism Only

Stay the same



increase by up to 25%



increase of 26%-50%



Increase of 51%-100%




Tourism, hospitality, retail and accommodation sectors, which we know are more reliant on overseas travellers, expect their business to improve more than other sectors do with an open travel border to Australia, with 37.31% expecting an increase of up to 25%, 28.36% predicting an increase of 26-50% and 16.42% an increase of 51-100%.

Confidence in businesses being able to continue trading over the next three months is high considering the current market and uncertainty, with 86.61% of respondents saying their business was able to continue trading for the next 3 months if the borders remain closed to International visitors (slightly higher than the district rate of 84.39%).

This figure drops, only slightly, to 77.61% when talking into account just tourism businesses, which gives us some confidence that businesses are staying positive about the next few months ahead. It will be key to ensure we continue to expand the number of people completing the survey and track any trends with the quarterly surveys past the three-month period.

Unsurprisingly, 67.86% of people said demand or number of customers was the single most limiting factor to growing their business, which rose to 89.55% for tourism businesses.

Finding skilled and unskilled staff is still proving an issue for businesses with 30.42% saying it was harder to find unskilled staff than it was three months ago (58.47% said it was the same) and 41.96% said it was harder to find skilled/specialist staff (51.79% said it was the same).

Around 50% of businesses had not given a pay rise to their team in the last three months and around the same number said they did not plan to give one in the next three months either.

71.43% of businesses said they’d had a decrease in profits in the last three months and 69.64% expect to have a continued decrease in the next three months, with 41.96% of businesses saying they would need to decrease staff levels during that time and 38.62% saying they would also need to reduce hours of operation.

Largely the cost of doing business remained the same for more than half of businesses, citing cost of goods, services, buildings, plants etc had remained the same and would remain the same over the next three months. Equally the cost of goods to the customer also remained largely the same.

The survey was completed by 112 businesses in the Upper Clutha. Of those that completed the survey, the majority were based in Wanaka (as opposed to Luggate/Three Parks etc), 58.93% of respondents have 2-10 staff and 67.86% had been in business for more than five years. Of the 112 who responded, 67 were identified in the tourism, hospitality, retail or accommodation sector.

The next Southern Lakes Business Confidence Survey will be distributed week commencing 3rd May.

*For the purpose of the survey, tourism businesses include accommodation, hospitality, retail, tourism operators and activities.