Business confidence low in North West, says latest monthly survey

Martyn Kendrick
Martyn Kendrick
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Business confidence in the North West fell six points during November, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Companies in the North West report lower confidence in their business prospects at 10 per cent and lower economic optimism at two per cent. Together, this gives an overall confidence of six per cent.

Businesses’ hiring intentions show that a net balance of eight per cent of businesses in the region expect to hire more staff during the next year, down two points on last month.

Across the UK, overall confidence rose three points to nine per cent as firms’ optimism about the economy rose 10 points to seven per cent, although their confidence in their own prospects dropped three points to 12 per cent.

The Business Barometer questions 1,200 businesses monthly and provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide.

Martyn Kendrick, regional director for the North West at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “While it’s disappointing to see confidence in the region fall this month, the North West continues to outperform many other areas of the country.

“The region recently overtook the South East as the region receiving the highest number of government-backed start-up loans outside London – a clear indication that the region’s entrepreneurial spirit hasn’t dampened despite the strong headwinds it has faced.

“We committed to lend £1.3bn to North West businesses this year as part of our mission to help Britain prosper and we’ll continue to be by the side of businesses whatever the next 12 months may bring.”

Across the region, a net balance of 22 per cent of businesses said they felt that the UK’s exit from the European Union was having a negative impact on their expectations for business activity, up five points on a month ago.

Businesses in the West Midlands once again showed the most confidence, at 24%, ahead of London at 20%, and East Midlands at 14 per cent.

Those in Scotland were the least confident, with an overall confidence of -6 per cent, 15 points below the national average.

Nationally, overall business confidence improved in manufacturing, retail and services.

and stayed broadly steady in construction. The largest increase was in the retail sector, rising six points to 21 per cent, while the construction sector remained high at 16 per cent despite a slight decline of two points.

Sentiment in the manufacturing sector rose to a four-month high of 10 per cent, while services confidence also increased for a second month, by four points to 4 per cent.

Hann-Ju Ho, Senior Economist, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “The third consecutive increase in overall business confidence is positive for the UK as economic optimism reaches the highest level since January.

“While concerns about the impact of the UK leaving the EU continued to ease slightly, hiring intentions remain broadly stable and it will be interesting to see how this trend continues towards the end of 2019 and into the start of next year.”