Economic malaise persists
By Margot C. Lester, Columnist
With unemployment continuing and credit markets remaining tight, the
folks in charge of the balance sheet are understandably pessimistic.
This according to the Quarterly Economic Outlook Survey by the American
Institute of Certified Public Accountants and UNC’s Kenan-Flagler
Business School. The survey polled 1,584 CPAs serving as financial
executives (CEOs, CFOs and controllers). More information and full poll
results are available at aicpa.org.
Forty percent were downright pessimistic, an increase from 25 percent
in the last quarter. About 20 percent said they were optimistic. More
depressingly, a whopping 78 percent think U.S. business conditions won’t
rebound to pre-recession levels until 2012 or later. Ouch.
“Uncertainty about the sustainability of the recovery continues to
limit planned investment and hiring,” said UNC Kenan-Flagler accounting
professor Mark Lang (right) via a press release. “The next few months will be
crucial in determining whether uncertainty resolves to the point where
firms are willing to significantly increase spending and hiring.”
Another survey, this one by financial software developer Sageworks,
says independent retailers have watched sales drop 2 percent this year.
That’s on top of a reported 8 percent decline last year. By comparison,
publicly traded retailers experienced a 0.5 percent uptick year-to-date,
plus a 0.4 percent increase in 2009. Not huge gains, but a marked
difference in performance compared to independent shops. Sageworks
analysts attribute the gap to small businesses’ limited influence with
suppliers and smaller advertising budgets. Additionally, many private
retailers specialize in “boutique” items, not the mainstream stuff folks
buy more frequently.
To find out how local businesses are faring, continue reading the story here.