As drought ravages NSW, the financial impact is being felt in farms, hotels and shops across the state, but some regional cities like Albury remain insulated.
Just over 79 per cent of the Riverina is in drought, with an additional 20 per cent classed as drought affected, while 44 per cent of the Murray region is in drought and another 56 per cent drought affected.
A NSW Business Chamber Drought Survey found 83 per cent of Murray businesses and 88 per cent of Riverina business were directly or indirectly affected by drought conditions, while 97 per cent of Murray businesses and 82 per cent of Riverina businesses experienced a decrease in sales or revenue.
The two regions have so far avoided being classed as in severe drought but industries are struggling; 94 per cent of retail or wholesale traders surveyed reported being affected by the drought, 98 per cent of the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry, and 87.5 per cent of accommodation and food services businesses.
Chamber Murray and Riverina regional manager Andrew Cottrill said rural and regional towns rely heavily on the agriculture sector.
“The survey demonstrated about one in three NSW businesses are saying the viability of their business is currently at risk and two in three will likely scale back investment and reduce capital investment,” he said.
“It’s really concerning. We know regional businesses always do it a little bit tougher during drought conditions, but to see the extent of the impact – it’s really telling.”
While the drought survey found more than 59 per cent of Murray respondents and 52 per cent of Riverina businesses were anticipating a reduction in staff numbers, data from Albury Northside’s Business Chamber Compass painted an optimistic picture for the city.
The compass report showed more than 70 per cent of responding businesses expected revenue to grow in the next 12 months, with 47 per cent expecting to employ more staff.
Northside’s Carrick Gill-Vallance said it was hard to quantify what effect the drought was having on Albury as no specific surveys had occurred, but there was likely to be flow-on effects.
“We’re insulated to an extent and are pretty lucky the local economy is very well balanced and not heavily reliant on any one industry,” he said.
“It would be ignorant to say we’re not going to feel any minor impacts… but in our day-to-day operational interactions members are not saying it’s an issue.
“Overall the data we have seen was quite positive.”
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