Businesses confident despite ‘moutains to climb’ says survey

Phil Smith, MD of Business West

Phil Smith, MD of Business West

A quarterly economic survey that polls firms in the region has found that many remain confident despite the tough national context.

The Business West Quarterly Economic Survey  shows that businesses are still relatively confident about their prospects but stress that there are still some mountains to climb, before the economy is fully back on track.

The survey, made up of responses from more than 500 businesses across the West Country, shows that most key indicators are down in first quarter of 2013 compared to the end of last year.

Phil Smith, who is Managing Director of Business West, comments:“There’s a compelling story to tell from the first quarter survey results this year particularly with the results coming so soon after the Chancellor’s budget where there was little to encourage small business.

“What our local businesses are telling us is they are confident, despite the Chancellor sticking to austerity measures and “Plan A”.

“They are confident about their prospects for the year (66%) and about sales and orders, both UK (32-39%) and export (23-24%).

“This confidence does need to be tempered with a look at reality though, whilst businesses consistently expect sales and orders to increase, our survey results show that this has not happened. Sales and orders, both UK and Export, have largely remained the same over the last few quarters.

“However, to complete the story, all is not rosy as businesses, like the Chancellor, find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place – 70% of businesses are operating below capacity and nearly 60% are not exporting at all.

“Others are concerned about inflation, with nearly 30% predicting they will have to increase prices in the next 3 months and 25% stating they see current inflation levels as a barrier to growth.

“The overall results provide a glimpse of the potential for recovery and show some confidence within the business community. However, most of the indicators are down on the same time last year and are still below their pre-recession levels (2007).

“Businesses up and down the country are working hard to drive the economy, create jobs and export, but they cannot accelerate this process alone.”

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