Blip in sales follows strong start to year

Babs Murphy

Babs Murphy

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After a strong start to 2014, Lancashire firms have found sales and orders much harder to come by in the third Quarter according to the latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) published by the Chamber of Commerce.

The new survey, compiled by the county’s three Chambers in association with Moore and Smalley Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors, shows that sales at home and abroad have weakened since the start of the year when several key measures used in the QES reached record highs.

Despite weaker sales in Q3, more than half of the businesses surveyed are confident that turnover and profitability will improve in the year ahead.

A further sign of business confidence was the news that 37 per cent of firms expect their workforce numbers to increase over the next three months as businesses gear up for the festive season.

Babs Murphy, Chief Executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber, said: “After such a positive start to the year it was perhaps inevitable that there would be a slow down at some point. However, there was still growth in the Lancashire economy during the third quarter, and we are optimistic that sales and orders will increase as we approach Christmas.

“The survey results highlight both the strength of the recovery and the challenges still facing the UK economy.

“While 2014 is likely to be a strong year for the UK economy, more needs to be done to secure our economic future, including keeping interest rates low until there is a clear need to start increasing them.”

Stephen Gregson, Corporate Finance Director at Moore and Smalley, said: “It may be tempting to read the latest QES results as hinting at a weakening in the levels of business confidence across our region. But scratch beneath the surface and the picture becomes less clear – and arguably more positive.

“Our recovery has been cautious to date and this looks likely to continue.

“Such a set of circumstances allows scope for some quarters to see decline.

“It is hoped that these will be ‘blips’ - and there are signs within the survey results which hint at this possibly being the case.”