North West firms’ confidence on the rise

Date published: 28 June 2019

Business confidence in the North West rose four points during June to 20 per cent, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Companies in the North West report higher confidence in their business prospects, up six points to 25 per cent, and higher economic optimism, which rose one point to 14 per cent. Together, this gives an overall confidence of 20 per cent.

Businesses’ hiring intentions show a net balance of four per cent of businesses in the region expect to hire more staff during the next year, down 12 points on last month.

Across the UK, overall confidence grew three points to 13 per cent as firms’ confidence in their own prospects grew five points to 22 per cent, while their economic optimism also grew by three points to five per cent.

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

Martyn Kendrick, regional director for the North West at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “It’s great to see that North West businesses are feeling confident in both themselves and the wider economy this month, with overall confidence polling seven points above the national average.

“Although ongoing uncertainty has left some firms hesitant to increase staffing levels in the next 12 months, confidence in their own business prospects remains above the national average.

“Whatever the coming months may hold, we’ll continue to be by the side of North West businesses and have pledged £1.3 billion to help them grow confidently throughout 2019 and beyond.”

Across the region, a net balance of 17 per cent of businesses say they feel that the UK’s exit from the European Union is having a negative impact on their expectations for business activity, down one point on a month ago.

Business confidence increased in the retail sector, up by 11 points to 22 per cent. Gains were also seen in construction, up five points to 17 per cent, and in the services sector, up five points to 12 per cent. In contrast, confidence in the manufacturing sector fell by 11 points, bringing June’s figures back in line with the low seen earlier this year.

Hann-Ju Ho, Senior Economist, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “While overall business confidence is still below the long-term average, it is encouraging to see a rise for the third time in four months since the low in February.  

“Firms are showing more optimism both in their trading prospects and the overall economy, with levels rising in the retail, construction and services sectors this month.  Ongoing global trade tensions, however, appear to have weighed on manufacturing confidence.”

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