Businesses think their luck is set to change in 2015, with many gearing up for bumper profits and planning to hire more staff.
An increasing number of businesses expect to lift their sales and profits in the first three months of the new year, according to the latest Dun & Bradstreet business expectations survey.
More than 50 per cent of businesses expect to increase sales in 2015, after actual sales ticked up in the September quarter.
Expectations for higher earnings lifted to a 10-year high.
“The view from the business sector is very positive, with the data on sales and profits suggesting a period of stronger economic growth into the new year,” D&B economic adviser Stephen Koukoulas said.
The sales outlook was strongest for the wholesale and retail sectors, where 60 per cent of businesses expect increased trade.
The finance, insurance and real estate sector anticipate the biggest jump in profits.
Meanwhile, 31 per cent of businesses plan to raise their prices.
One in four businesses expect to hire staff in the March quarter and employment expectations are even better among construction businesses, with one in three intending to hire.
“The slow but steady rise in expected employment and capital expenditure readings is encouraging,” Mr Koukoulas said.
“These are the components of the business expectations survey that need to keep moving higher if we are to be confident that the economy is moving onto a stronger path.”
D&B chief executive Gareth Jones said business optimism should continue into 2015, but its survival was reliant on consumer confidence.
“Although still below trend, D&B is forecasting a lift in Australia’s gross domestic product growth from 2.2 per cent to 2.5 per cent in 2015, while a more accommodating currency level and a stronger US economy will support business optimism,” he said.
“Consumer confidence, however, appears to be the missing piece in the recovery puzzle and one with the potential to derail the business sector’s capacity to grow and drive a new phase in the economy’s development.”