Regional businesses growing faster than metropolitan: Square study finds

Nov 17, 2021

Regional Revival

Today Square, the globally trusted software, hardware and omnichannel commerce solution for businesses of all sizes, released a report showing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic recovery on small businesses across Australia. According to the report, regional businesses have been outpacing their metropolitan counterparts with businesses in regional Australia processing 259% more in sales through Square since the onset of the pandemic. Comparatively, businesses in metro areas processed 178% more in sales through Square.

Square’s State of Regional Business Report examines the growth regional small businesses have seen across Australia and uncovers the factors driving this trend, as well as the remaining challenges they’re facing as the sector recovers from the effects of the pandemic.

Not only have sales through Square grown faster in regional Australia than metropolitan, so have businesses signing up to use digital payments. More businesses began taking payments with Square since the onset of the pandemic until now, compared to the same time period before March 2020 — with the pace of adoption growing more quickly in regional areas than in metro areas.

The small business boom is being driven in large part by a desire to have freedom to work on their own terms, with nearly 70% of survey respondents agreeing this was the biggest driver of establishing a new business, followed by wanting to be their own boss (55%), and passion for their field of work (39%).

The data was captured from millions of transactions across Square’s Australian sellers, comparing data since the onset of the pandemic with the same time period before March 2020, along with a survey of hundreds of small business owners.

“The last two years have shown the entrepreneurial and adaptive best of Aussie businesses,” said Colin Birney, Head of Business Development at Square Australia. “Our regions have been particularly savvy and turned to technology to help them adapt and enable continued growth. We’ve seen huge numbers of Australian sellers use Square Online to build an omnichannel business and tap into a Square Loan to invest in their business.”

Key findings from Square’s State of Regional Business Report include:

  • Regional businesses growing faster than metropolitan: Payments processing growth among regional businesses using Square is outpacing their metropolitan counterparts in every state, and more businesses are being set up in the regions than ever before.
  • Regional Queensland leads on growth: Towns in regional Queensland account for four of the top ten fastest growing regional hubs on the Square platform, with Goondiwindi, on the QLD-NSW border, leading the charge in the state. Port Pirie in South Australia is the fastest growing regional town.
  • Digital divide in rural areas: While eCommerce served as a lifeline for many businesses throughout the pandemic, only around a quarter (27%) of all businesses have an online store. Though, businesses in regional Australia are signing up to Square Online faster than their counterparts in metro areas.
  • Small biz confidence is high, but typical challenges persist: Seven in ten small business owners are confident about their future prospects, but are still concerned about access to capital, and having the tools and skills needed to run their business.

The full report, available here, contains more in-depth data, analysis and comments from Square sellers.

Press contact

The data used in this report 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. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. For specific advice applicable to your business, please contact a professional.