Business confidence falls again

The latest Lloyds Bank’s Business Barometer has shown another fall in business confidence in the North West.

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

Companies in the North West reported lower confidence in their own business prospects month-on-month, down 12 points at 35 per cent.  When taken alongside their optimism in the economy, down two points to 34 per cent, this gives a headline confidence reading of 34 per cent. 

A net balance of 32 per cent of businesses in the region expect to increase staff levels over the next year, down 15 points on last month, but remaining above the UK average.

Overall, UK business confidence was buoyant in November at 40 per cent, down three points on October’s reading of 43 per cent.

Martyn Kendrick, regional director for the North West at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Despite the dip in confidence businesses in the region remain positive about their trading prospects and the wider economy. Of course there are challenges ahead, not least with ongoing supply chain issues, but firms in the North West have demonstrated their resilience time and time again and it won’t be any different now.

“Businesses are in a solid position to bounce back and keep up the momentum behind the nation’s recovery.”

At a sector level, confidence slipped in manufacturing (42 per cent), to its lowest since August, linked to the persistence of supply-chain disruptions, while it fell to a seven-month low of 28 per cent in construction.

In contrast, the retail sector (45 per cent) bucked the trend with a pickup in confidence, reflecting hopes for higher spending ahead as the festive period approaches. Services confidence (41 per cent) fell slightly, with strong growth for financial & business services and communications offset by more downbeat responses from education, health and public administration.

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