Times are still tough for businesses in New Zealand, and particularly SMBs, the latest figures from Statistics New Zealand suggest.
48,950 businesses ceased trading in the year to February 2011, compared with 42,370 starting up. The figures represent the second consecutive fall in the number of businesses in New Zealand, following eight years of increases.
Hamish Hill, Statistics NZ business infrastructure and performance manager, says while this is the second fall in a row, it is smaller than the first, at 0.6% compared with the previous year's 1.5%.
"The small change in the total number of businesses between February 2010 and 2011 reflects a period of mixed economic activity and uncertainty, in New Zealand and the wider business environment," Hill says.
Holding onto employees was a particular struggle for small businesses. The number of people employed in businesses with one to five employees dropped 1.7%, and in businesses with six to nine employees 1.2%.
In contrast, enterprises with 100 or more employees recorded a gain in employees, up 1.8%.
Although these large businesses account for less than one percent of all enterprises, they claim 48% of the workforce.
There was some good news, with four in five new businesses surviving their first year of operation.
Statistics NZ notes that as these figures cover the period to February 2011, none of the effects of the Christchurch earthquake will show up in the results. Go here for more.