It hasn’t been a happy start to the new year for Canberra Businesses. In a recent poll, 70% of respondents said that their business situation in January 2022 was worse than it was this time last year, or in December 2021.

Canberra Business Chamber CEO Graham Catt said: “Most Canberra businesses are small and family enterprises, and they are telling us that they are hurting. A ‘triple whammy’ of staff shortages, ongoing health measures, and a general lack of public confidence are impacting trade.”

The survey asked both customer facing and business-to-business companies about their revenues, staffing challenges and general business confidence.

Almost 75% of businesses said they were more concerned about the impact of COVID19 on the broader economy than they were in December last year. Over two-thirds were more concerned about their business than in December 2021 and 10% said their business was no longer viable.

Staffing was a challenge for local operators. In the survey, 70% of businesses had been impacted by staff shortages, and 35% reported that more than 25% of their workforce had been unable to attend work over the month.

Around 85% said that restrictions such as density limits, mask wearing and eating or drinking rules had affected their revenues, and two thirds said the impact was a 30% or greater hit to their turnover.

Anthony Brierley, General Manager of the Australian Hotels Association ACT Branch said: “The COVID19 restrictions shouldn’t stay in place one moment longer than necessary. We can see the damage these restrictions are doing to hospitality businesses.”

The ACT Government’s encouragement for people to work at home was also having an effect, with two-thirds of respondents saying the policy had a negative impact on their business.

Adina Cirson from the Property Council of Australia said: “the quickest way our economy will recover is for people to get back to the office. Without workers back in the city and town centres, ongoing impacts and reliance on government assistance will stretch well into 2022, as evidenced by the survey results.

And whilst the way in which we work has changed indefinitely – people should be assured that the office is safe and risks can be managed – this is now a critical issue if we are to save jobs and businesses.”

David Marshall, Chair of the Canberra Region Tourism Leaders Forum, said that “the impact of Omicron on many businesses was even more devastating for the tourism and hospitality sectors than the 2020 and 2021 lockdowns. Whilst operators were appreciative of the Government’s Hardship package and certain waivers on taxes and charges, most were desperate for cash support just to survive,” said Dr Marshall.

Mr Catt said that “businesses do appreciate the assistance provided so far, including the extension of the small business support scheme. Clearly though, many small local businesses are struggling, and may face closure without some sort of cash flow support.”

“Business is looking to the government for leadership, public messaging and policy initiatives that will restore community confidence and drive trade.” he said.

Media Contact:

Graham Catt, CEO, Canberra Business Chamber / Email:
Anthony Brierley, General Manager, Australian Hotels Association ACT Branch / Email:
Adina Cirson, ACT Executive Director, Property Council of Australia / Email:
David Marshal, Chair, Canberra Region Tourism Leaders Forum / Email: