Welsh businesses plan jobs boost as confidence grows
Business confidence in Wales rose two points during September to 0%, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.
Companies in Wales report higher confidence in their business prospects at 18% and, together with their views of the economy overall, this gives an overall confidence of 0%.
Businesses’ hiring intentions were also more positive, with a net balance of 9% of firms in the region expecting to hire more staff during the next year – up seven points on last month.
Across the UK, overall confidence rose one point to 2% as firms’ confidence in their own prospects climbed five points to 13%.
The Business Barometer questions 1,200 businesses monthly and provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide.
Amanda Dorel, regional director for Wales at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Although ongoing uncertainty is challenging for businesses, it is heartening to see that firms across Wales are beginning to regain confidence.
“Sectors such as tourism are booming, especially in areas like Pembrokeshire and Anglesey where Brits are opting for ‘staycations’ rather than booking flights abroad.
“With a growing number of Welsh firms planning to invest in growth and expand their workforces in the year ahead, we will be by the side of businesses and have pledged £1.1 billion to firms across the country this year to help them prosper.”
Across the region, a net balance of 10% 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, down five points on a month ago.
Businesses in the East Midlands showed the most confidence, at 15%, ahead of the West Midlands and Yorkshire (both on 7%).
Those in Scotland were the least confident, with an overall confidence of -18%, 20 points below the national average.
Overall confidence remained the weakest in the manufacturing sector, where it fell by five points to -2%, and the services sector, which remained unchanged at -3%. Overall business confidence in the retail sector rose by eight points to 14%, but fell two points in the construction sector to 10%.
Hann-Ju Ho, senior economist for Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “While overall business confidence this month has remained broadly steady across the UK, optimism in the economy has fallen, and both remain significantly below the same period last year, and the historic average. This month we are also seeing firms’ concerns about leaving the EU intensify against the backdrop of ongoing economic uncertainty.”