Boost in business confidence for South West firms in September

South West | Surveys
Andrew Kemp

Business confidence in the South West rose nine points during September to 24 per cent, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Companies reported higher confidence in their own business prospects, which rose 13 points to 26 per cent, and higher economic optimism, up seven points to 23 per cent.

Businesses’ hiring intentions showed that a net balance of 20 per cent of businesses in the region expect to hire more staff during the next year, down four points on last month.

Nationally, overall confidence rose six points to 29 per cent as firms’ optimism about the economy bounced back after August’s dip, rising nine points to 26 per cent. Companies’ confidence in their own business prospects rise three points to 32 per cent.

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

Andrew Kemp, regional director for the South West at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “It’s encouraging to see firms in the South West recover from their brief dip in business confidence last month.

“September marks a boost in both regional and national economic confidence, as well a brighter outlook for their own prospects.

“While hiring intentions took a slight hit this month, this still shows that significantly more firms in the South West are planning to grow than contract, which can only be positive.”

September’s survey – which was carried out between 3rd and 16th September – found that across the region, a net balance of nine 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. This compares with a net balance of six per cent who thought it was having a positive impact just a month ago.

National picture

Businesses in London showed the most confidence, at 42 per cent, ahead of the North West (38 per cent) and the West Midlands (33 per cent).

Those in Scotland were the least confident, with an overall confidence of just seven per cent, 22 points below the national average.

Sectors

Firms in the construction sector were the most confident in September, up five points to 41 per cent, followed by consumer services (33 per cent). Manufacturing businesses, however, saw confidence fall – the only broad sector to do so – declining seven points to 31 per cent.

Hann-Ju Ho, senior economist for Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Nationally, August’s dip in economic confidence and overall business confidence, appears to have been just that – a dip – and has been reversed in September.

“A brighter outlook, while potentially linked to what many firms saw as increasing signs of progress in Brexit negotiations earlier in the month, illustrates a more positive view on the balance of risks facing businesses as they enter the fourth quarter of the year.”

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