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wa small firmsSigns are emerging that the worst of the global financial crisis is over, according to a new survey, and the State’s small businesses are leading the way.
  
The Commonwealth Bank-Chamber of Commerce and Industry quarterly survey of business expectations, released yesterday, shows that economic conditions in WA appear to be stabilising after six months of decline.
  
CCI chief economist John Nicolaou said that the community could “take heart” from the results and that an economic recovery within the next 12 months was on the horizon.
  
“This survey is an important lead indicator of future economic activity,” he said.
  
“While just over half of all businesses remain pessimistic about the next 12 months, that’s come back from around 75 per cent of businesses that were pessimistic last quarter, and at the same time businesses that think conditions will improve (over the same time) has doubled.”
  
Mr Nicolaou said small businesses in service industries were the most optimistic, with 17 per cent of the firms surveyed believing conditions would improve over the next 12 months.
  
Beaumonde Catering owner Mark Dimmitt said he felt small business was better prepared for the slowdown than in other downturns because it had taken time to flow to Australia from the US.
  
He said that though his trade had been affected and was patchy, February was a record month for his 20-year-old business and he expected an upturn over the next year.
  
Woolworths regional manager Brad Bolin criticised “illogical barriers to doing business”, referring to trading hours in WA.
  
Mr Bolin said “conservative estimates” showed the group would need to employ another 300 staff in WA if trading hours were extended to 9pm.
  
“During this time of economic uncertainty there are still companies (looking) to hire more people — these efforts shouldn’t be undone by illogical barriers to doing business,” he said.
  
Coles and Kmart have said they expected to employ another 350 workers if 9pm trading was approved.

Source www.thewest.com.au

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online_shoppingSupermarket internet shopping has arrived in Perth, with Coles launching the service a few weeks ago and Woolworths expected to follow its rival’s lead within months.

General manager of online shopping for Coles, Keith Louie, said the use of the service had exceeded the company’s expectations and had created 150 jobs in Perth.

Thousands of orders have been taken in the few weeks the service has been operating.

Rival retailer Woolworths says it plans to go online in Perth by the end of the calendar year.

Spokesperson for Woolworths Claire Buchanan said online supermarket shopping was still very much a niche market.

“We tend to see a lot of people buying their bulky goods online and then shopping for fresh produce themselves. This is even though we tell them that our staff hand pick the goods as if they were buying for their own families,” Ms Buchanan said.

She said the value of online shopping to Woolworths equated to an additional supermarket in each of the cities in which it had been established.

“The market is still very small,” Ms Buchanan said.

“But once people try it they tend to come back. Some people will do a monthly shop online and then top up by visiting their local supermarket each week to get fresh food.

“We have online shopping in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne and by the end of this year will have it in Brisbane and Perth.”

Mr Louie said people were opting to shop online because they wanted more control over their spending.

He said shoppers in Perth could now choose from over 20,000 supermarket products online.

PERTH
JANE HAMMOND http://www.thewest.com.au

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