Southern services sector 'steady'

Dunedin's Octagon was full of diners when two cruise ships visited on the same day last month....
Dunedin's Octagon was full of diners when two cruise ships visited on the same day last month. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Otago and Southland's services sector maintained a "steady pace'' during October and was well ahead in expansion compared with the country's other three regions.

Southern hotel and hospitality outlets and suppliers to restaurants and cafes all reported good sales during October.

As with the separate manufacturing index last week, the southern services sector was in continued expansion - both indices sitting about 59.3 points.

Points above 50 reflect expansion, and below, contractions, in the BNZ-BusinessNZ performance of services index.

Nationally, the index rose by 1.2 points from September to 55.4, which was just above the long term average of 54.5.

Otago Southland Employers' Association chief executive Virginia Nicholls said the 59.3 score was the same as the average from the last year.

"It's encouraging to see the services sector maintaining its steady pace,'' she said.

The northern North Island was second to the South, on 57.6 points, followed by lower North Island on 55.4 and upper South Island on 51.8.

The Otago Southland breakdown in subcategories had orders/new business and activity/sales levels each above 60 points.

"The skifields had an extended season into October, which was positive for the businesses servicing their operations,'' Mrs Nicholls said.

However, the inclement spring weather was not always kind to some tourist operators, she said.

While the subcategories' southern employment levels were also in expansion, Mrs Nicholls said there were continuing concerns around accessing enough skilled and unskilled staff, an issue which has persisted for more than two years.

The hotel and hospitality industry reported a ``steady month'', helped by a positive conference market and events across the region, while suppliers to restaurants and cafes also had steady sales, she said.

In the South, the proportion of positive comments for October was 58% of respondents, while nationally that figure was at 56.5%, up on August's 56% and September's 50.7%.

BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope said the national index lift in October was due to the main subindex values showing improvement, with activity/sales up at 57.8 while new orders/business recovered to 57.9, following a drop in expansion levels in September.


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