Business confidence in the South West of England bounced back in November, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.
Overall confidence rose 18 points to 20% in November, almost eliminating October’s fall of 22 points and ensuring the underlying picture – measured by the average over the past three months – shows overall confidence at 15%.
Companies in the South West now report higher confidence in their business prospects, which rose 10 points to 25%. And a net balance of 16% of firms said they were optimistic about the economy, compared with last month, when a net balance of 12% said they were pessimistic.
A net balance of 21% of businesses in the region expect to hire more staff during the next year, up 10 points on last month.
Meanwhile, a net balance of 13% 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, compared with 27% a month ago.
Across the UK, overall confidence bounced back, climbing five points to 24% as firms’ optimism about the economy rose nine points to 17%. Companies’ confidence in their own business prospects rose two points to 31%.
The Business Barometer questions 1,200 businesses monthly and provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide.
Adam Rainey, regional director for the South West at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “A much more positive picture has been painted by South West businesses during November, driven largely by greater optimism in the outlook for the UK economy.
“Firms will be hoping that they will soon be able to plan with greater certainty and are looking to create new jobs to take on whatever challenges and opportunities the New Year may bring.”
Businesses in Yorkshire showed the most confidence, at 43%, ahead of the West Midlands (39%) and London (34%).
Those in the East Midlands were the least confident, with an overall confidence of 10%, 14 points below the national average.
Firms in the manufacturing sector saw the largest increase overall, rising by 11 points to 32%, while construction also registered a significant improvement of seven points to 29%.
Retail confidence edged up by one point to 30%, while other services rose five points but still continued to lag behind other sectors at 20%.
Concerns about the impact of leaving the EU were the highest in manufacturing.
Hann-Ju Ho, Senior Economist, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking commented: “Following last month’s dip, with business confidence reaching its lowest level since August 2017, it is reassuring to see that business confidence has picked up, helped by stronger economic optimism and hopes of a Brexit deal.”