More than 62% of businesses surveyed in the Wellington region were impacted in some way by the 7.8 earthquake on November 14.
The survey was conducted by Wellington Chamber of Commerce two weeks after the earthquake and the data collected from members by all five of the region’s chambers of commerce – the Hutt, Porirua, Kapiti, Wairarapa, and Wellington. Businesses were also asked about the impact of the flooding event later the same week.
Wellington Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive John Milford said the survey showed that businesses across the region were fairly resilient, but there was still a lot of work to do.
“The earthquake event could have been a lot worse, and there is a decent chunk of businesses that have to start realising that.”
Of the 711 businesses that responded, 441 (62%) said they were impacted in some way by the earthquake. Some 86 (12%) said they had damage to premises, 60 (8%) had damage to stock, 162 (23%) had some form of closure due to building inspection, 237 (33%) had some sort of staff disruption, and 124 (17%) some form of other disruption.
When asked for further detail of the impact, both direct and indirect, more than 33% mentioned disruption and/or impact on staff, nearly 16% mentioned damage, around 10% mentioned impact for clients, and 7% mentioned the inspection of buildings. Many noted the impact was worsened by both the earthquake and severe weather events being so close together (see below for details of the impact of the weather event).
Milford said the fact that 85% of respondents did not require short-term support or had self-managed issues after the earthquake, and that 83% did not require longer-term support or had self-managed issues was a good outcome.
“But we have much more work to do. Having two-thirds of businesses being sufficiently prepared for an earthquake, and a further 17% partially prepared and recognising that they can make improvements, is a good response, but it’s incumbent on the others to lift their game.
“Responsible and sensible employers should be taking steps to ensure they have systems in place to protect both their staff and their ongoing business.
“This survey reinforces that as a region we need to be as prepared as we can be. While many businesses demonstrated resilience, and were able to safeguard themselves, their employees, and families, the Wellington reality is we live in a region with a heightened earthquake risk and there is a real need to ensure we are all better prepared.”
Milford said the closeness of the double-hit event, which many businesses said worsened the impact on their business, was likely to affect business confidence for a while.
“The very early indications from our business confidence survey, which will be released next month, are that the impact of these events has adversely effected confidence.
“It’s a completely understandable reaction, and how hard confidence will be hit and how long it will be affected will depend largely on if big aftershocks resume. Long-term, projections for both the local and national economies are very positive, so all things being equal I would expect a correction in confidence not too far into 2017.”