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We spoke to a number of businesses this month to see how they are being affected by things like the economic downturn, currency differences and how they are planning for 2009. Here’s what they said:

Andrew Burton, Shaws Office Furniture
We import much of our stock from China and on average we are seeing a 30% increase in costs for landed goods. Competitively this won’t change our position as all stockists will have to pass on these costs. Furniture sales are still strong as we supply to many new developments and these have been planned in so are still completing and going ahead. However I do expect to see this slow next year and we are putting plans into place to react to this. On heavy office equipment, because of the uncertainty of the economic situation, I do expect that larger capital decisions may be postponed.

Debbie Carter, Wallaces
As a retailer we’re very lucky at the moment, at this time of year people are spending money for Christmas so the credit crunch hasn’t really hit us as yet. However, I think come February and March 2009 we will start to see a downturn. Speaking to customers they are welcoming the interest rate cuts, cheaper petrol prices and looking forward to receiving their bonuses for Christmas.
I’ve also noticed people are returning to traditional shopping strips and stores rather than retail chains so they can buy something different.

With the dollar making travel overseas more expensive we may even benefit from people holidaying within Australia. So all in all things are very positive at the moment and we’re hoping for a strong summer season, hopefully drier than last year.

Clayton Oates, QA Business
The current economic situation has certainly given us the impetus to ensure that we have systems in place to do business as efficiently as possible. Keeping on top of debtors is vital and we are enforcing the rules. If a business goes down owing you money the knock on effect can be devastating. In times like these businesses are focussing on efficiencies, which is good for our business as they will take us on to help them.
We’ve noticed some clients are not replacing leaving staff whether they were overstaffed or are cost cutting it’s difficult to say.
I can see there is a lot more to happen and companies that have a broad base of clients are more protected than those with a small number of clients, the impact of losing 1 or 2 is far greater for them. However, this is also a time of great opportunity for businesses that are lean and fit. They can focus on minimising their exposure and maxmise targetted growth.

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