The St. John's Board of Trade has released its 2016 outlook, and is warning business owners to take precautions amid a tough economic climate.

Des Whelan, incoming chair of the board, said the results of the 2016 outlook indicate a softening economy.

"The results of our recent survey demonstrates why members need to be resilient and start bullet proofing their businesses today so they can not only weather the current economic downturn, but be ready for what comes beyond 2016," Whelan said in a statement.

The board surveyed more than 100 businesses in an informal questionnaire last month.

The outlook raised concern for the demographic trends predicted for Newfoundland and Labrador, with rising health care costs, a shrinking tax base, increased per capita debt, difficulty finding successors for retiring small business owners and a general lack of qualified, skilled workers.

Among the survey's highlights:

  • 48 per cent described current economic conditions in St. John's and surrounding area as good;
  • 72 per cent said compared to a year ago economic conditions are worse;
  • 47 per cent indicated their company's financial position was about the same;
  • 54 per cent cited shrinking markets as a factor that could hinder economic growth;
  • 61 per cent say the number of people they employ has stayed the same;
  • 85 per cent feel moving towards a culture of continuous improvement is important for their company.