COVID-19 has dominated our lives and businesses since February. It's been eight crazy months where we haven’t really known what's going to happen month to month, or sometimes week to week. But I get the feeling the fog is starting to slowly lift (for most industries).
Original concerns were around managing cashflow and there is no doubt the government's Wage Subsidy and Small Business Cashflow (Loan) Scheme have been a great buffer (although the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme, managed by the banks, has been an abysmal failure). These government schemes have definitely allowed businesses to take a breath and work out where to next. Government funding into the Regional Business Partners Scheme has also assisted businesses in a number of key areas. And interest rates were also so much lower than during the GFC in 2008.
In my opinion, business confidence in Hawke's Bay feels cautious but optimistic. In the run up to Christmas we’ll see the same ‘need it by Christmas’ mentality, which will boost demand. There also seems to be plenty of money being spent in the local economy that previously may have headed overseas.