Unley Business Survey

Business Survey Findings

We are pleased to present key findings of our recent business survey. With 403 businesses participating, this survey has provided us with insights into the challenges, opportunities, and aspirations of a significant proportion of our 5,300-strong network. We extend our gratitude to all those who took the time to share their thoughts and experiences - online, over the phone, face to face, or within a focus group.

In this summary, we will explore the key findings and trends that emerged from the survey. These insights will not only help us better understand the needs and concerns of our business community but also guide our efforts in providing support and resources that align with the role of Council in economic development.

Your voices matter, and this summary is a testament to our commitment to transparency, collaboration, and community-driven decision-making. We look forward to continuing the conversation on how we can collectively continue to create a great place to do business. Thank you for your contribution.

Who did we hear from?

The retail sector (33%), health care and social assistance (17%) and accommodation and food service (16%). Also, administration and support services (8%), professional, scientific, and technical services (7%), financial and insurance services (6%), construction (5.5%) and art and recreation services (5.5%).

The top four suburbs represented were: Unley (19%), Goodwood (17%), Parkside (17%) and Hyde Park (16%). Over half (57%) respondents have operated in the City of Unley for 10 years or less with the remaining 43% for 11 years or more. Small businesses were key contributors at 49% - employing five or less people. 10% of businesses employed 50 or more people. 69% of all businesses have an annual turnover of $1 million or less pa.

The Top 10 Insights

  1. Businesses expect Council to listen, promote the area, provide safety and lighting, manage car parking, increase foot traffic, support business needs and activate business precincts.
  2. 70% of businesses thought that Council should promote the area as a centre for food and shopping.
  3. It is currently unlikely that businesses would recommend the City of Unley as a place to do business with a net promoter score of -27.8.
  4. Businesses are generally happy with the current business mix with a rating of 3.8 out of 5.  However, there were gaps identified for business attraction such as the need for more destination cafes, fashion / sportwear, bespoke retail as well as a need for butchers, health food stores and greengrocers.
  5. The Business Survey asked people if they were part of a Trader / Business Association. 11% said yes.  44% said they did not know and 45% said no.
  6. There was strong interest in building business capability with 90% of businesses wanting to participate in initiatives such as networking activities, industry clusters, focus groups and business mentoring.
  7. The most important issues in business neighbourhoods were car parking, foot traffic, cost of living pressures and footpaths.
  8. 52% of our business community felt confident about the future.
  9. Businesses want us to listen more to their concerns, particularly those businesses that are not within Mainstreets.
  10. The majority of respondents see the role of Council as a facilitator of the local economy.

Our Mainstreets

The business survey provided insights into life on our Mainstreets. Of the 403 respondents, 37% were from Unley Road, 26% were from King William Road, 26% were from Goodwood Road and 13% were from Fullarton Road. This sample has given us useful, independent, and objective insights into these business communities.

70% of businesses said that non-wage labour costs were having an impact on business conditions, whilst 40% of respondents said profitability was down. 90% of respondents had business concerns with the main concerns being overheads and economic climate. The top issues currently confronting our precincts were car parking; foot traffic; activations; and filling empty shops and office space.

Role of Council

It is important that the role of Councils is recognised. It can influence economic growth by:

  1. Providing and lobbying for infrastructure and services
  2. Attracting investment through advocacy and provision of investment support services
  3. Zoning or development to revitalise key precincts and change land use patterns
  4. Building and maintaining infrastructure to provide services, amenity and facilities for the community
  5. Attracting and developing business and support activities
  6. Supporting strategies that generate skills planning, job creation and retention
  7. Attracting investors that would generate improved services or economic vitality
  8. Promoting city wide tourism and marketing activities, including communication strategies, major events and festivals, visitor centres and retail support.

What are we doing next?

SHORT TERM (Immediate actions – six months)
  1. Share this information with our business community and business associations.
  2. Feed this sentiment information into current initiatives and work plans.
  3. Consistently communicate the Economic Development Growth Strategy (2021 -2025), the role of Council and the actions within the Plan.
  4. Use survey insights as a backdrop in discussions and recommendations made by the Business and Economic Development Advisory Committee.
  5. Consider how Council can work closer with Mainstreet Associations and property owners to: enhance car parking; increase foot traffic via activation and events; fill empty shops; promote the City of Unley for business and investment; and retain current businesses.
  6. Develop a 2024 Program of Business Workshops and Networking Events.
  7. Increase communication and engagement with our business community via email through EDMs, networking and Unley Business E-Newsletter.
  8. Insist that our Mainstreet Associations engage with their business community more regularly and share upcoming work plans (and associated budget) with their streets and how their levy is being spent through a budget consultation process.
  9. Create a focus group of businesses to consult with on key Council initiatives.
  10. Deliver the Eastern Regional Alliance (ERA) Business Advisory Service in early 2024 that provides one on one business advice.
  11. Invite the visitor economy key stakeholders to participate on focus groups to further understand the opportunities and challenges of promoting the City of Unley as a place to visit through the industry sector analysis process.
  12. Administration will create an action plan to address feedback from the survey.
MEDIUM TERM (Six – 12 months)
  1. We will insist that Mainstreet Associations conduct an annual consultation of their streets and enhance engagement with their business community through our quarterly meetings, monthly updates and the agreement.
  2. We want to move to a more positive net promoter score. A pulse survey will be undertaken in April and September 2024 to see if we have shifted the dial on this baseline data.
  3. Implement the Unley parking Management Plan (2023 – 2033) after it is endorsed by Council.
  1. Use the insights to guide the future development of the next Economic Development Growth Strategy.
  2. Improve our relationships with property owners to enhance car parking and fill vacant shops. 


*ERA refers to the eastern metropolitan Councils who voluntarily work together for the benefit of their local communities and the eastern region community as a whole. ERA Councils include the Cities of Burnside, Campbelltown, Norwood Payneham & St Peters, Prospect, Unley, and the Town of Walkerville.