Regional Victorian small businesses thriving post-pandemic, report shows

Regional business

Small businesses in regional Victoria are growing twice as fast as those in Melbourne, according to a new research report looking at the post-COVID recovery of the industry.

The State of Regional Business Report, released by commerce company Square, scrutinised payment processing data to find regional businesses were currently processing 259 per cent more payments compared with the beginning of the pandemic.

The regional business boom is tracking at more than double the rate of metro Melbourne’s post-COVID recovery, with those non-regional businesses posting a 178 per cent increase in payments.

Port Fairy reigns as Victoria’s fastest-growing town according to the report, tripling in the number of businesses signing up to take digital payments since the start of the pandemic.

The report says that pandemic-related regional migration helped contribute to growing numbers of businesses being set up outside of Melbourne.

“The last two years have shown the entrepreneurial and adaptive best of Aussie businesses,” Square Australia Head of Business Development Colin Birney says.

“Our regions have been particularly savvy and turned to technology to help them adapt and enable continued growth.”

The data was collated from a general population survey of more than 300 Australian business owners, plus aggregated data from millions of transactions across Square sellers in Australia between March 2020 and October 2021, compared to the same time period before the onset of the pandemic.

According to the report, more businesses are being set up in the regions than ever before, with payments processing growth among regional businesses using Square outpacing their metropolitan counterparts in every state.

Furthermore, while eCommerce served as a lifeline for many businesses throughout the pandemic, only around 27 per cent of all businesses have an online store.

But despite nearly two years of snap lockdowns, border closures, and reduced tourism, the report says business owners are feeling optimistic, with nearly 70 per cent having confidence in their growth prospects over the coming year.

To view the full report, click here.

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