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North Canterbury Business Opinion Surveys

The North Canterbury Business Opinion Survey is undertaken every six months (April and October) and gives an indication of the mood of our business community. This survey is broadly in line with the NZIER New Zealand Business Opinion Survey which allows us to make comparisons between North Canterbury and New Zealand.

The Latest Survey

The latest survey took place in April 2024 and shows a rising level of positivity amongst our businesses amidst underlying challenges. Compared to a year ago businesses are more confident about the situation for their business (up 29% to net +40%), for their industry (up 18% to net -2%), for their district (up 34% to net +11%) and for New Zealand (up 48% to net -4%). This compares well to New Zealand businesses overall who reported an increase in confidence over the same period of 37% to net -24%.

Local Businesses also report that, compared to a year ago, finding staff is easier for unskilled staff  (up 37% to net +42%) and semi-skilled staff (up 36% to net +6%). While it remains difficult to source skilled staff, the trend is improving (up 28% to net -24%).

While business confidence is improving, the business situation remains tight, with 55% of businesses reporting lower profitability (net -42%) despite sales levels remaining roughly stable (net -2%). The biggest concern for North Canterbury businesses is the rising cost of doing business with 92% of businesses reporting increased costs and 57% of businesses reporting this as their single biggest limiting factor.

Building investment is also down despite a high number of commercial consents being processed in the last year. Developers report that many people are holding back from building until the economic situation improves. 49% of business owners report a lower level of investment in buildings (net -32%) and 47% of businesses have reduced their spending on plant and equipment (net -28%).

Waimakariri Quarterly Infometrics Report

Commissioned by the Waimakariri District Council, Infometrics provides us with quarterly reports detailing what the economic situation in the Waimakariri is. These reports provide many details on employment, building consents, gross domestic product, accommodation, house sales and prices, and retail and vehicle sales.


Analysis of the report from our Business Support Manager

The latest Infometrics report for the month ended March 2024 for Waimakariri has been released

As with the business opinion survey ENC recently sent out, there are negative signals but an underlying strength that shows the Waimakariri economy is well placed to weather the coming year. Many economists predict the upcoming year will be difficult but interest rates are starting to show downward movement and economists predict the national economy will level out around the middle of next year.

Positive Indicators:

  • Consumer spending continues to increase (+6.2% compared to +2.8% for New Zealand)
  • Unemployment remains at historic lows (2.8% compared to 4.0% for New Zealand)
  • Employment numbers continue to rise (+2.1% compared to +2.9% for New Zealand)
  • The number of businesses increased (+1.8% compared to +1.0% for New Zealand)
  • Commercial consents increased (+57.8% compared to -1.1% for New Zealand)
  • Residential consents increased (+14.4% compared to -24.9% for New Zealand)

Not so positive indicators:

  • GDP is down (-0.9% compared to +0.2% for New Zealand)
  • Jobseeker support recipients increased (+9.1% compared to +7.8% for New Zealand)
  • People on other benefits increased (+8.3% compared to +2.8% for New Zealand)
  • Housing register applicants increased (+22.2% compared to +2.1% for New Zealand)
  • Car registrations are down (-5.9% compared to +7.5% for New Zealand)
  • Commercial vehicle registrations are down (-20.0% compared to -0.2% for New Zealand)


What this survey does not show is the impact that high inflation is having on business margins (as detailed in the recent business opinion survey), however the results of that are shown in this report by the decrease in large purchases such as vehicles and an increasing number of people falling into hardship. The growing community of Waimakariri means greater consumer spend and higher residential consents which is cushioning the district a little. While commercial consents are up, some local developers report that they are holding back from building until the economy improves.