Business confidence near record low, but improving says North West survey

Business confidence in the North West rose 10 points during May to -25 per cent, but remained near historic lows, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Sunday, 31st May 2020, 12:45 pm

Firms reported higher confidence in their business prospects month-on-month at -10 per cent. When taken alongside their views of the economy overall, this gives a confidence reading of -25 per cent.

The Business Barometer questions 1,200 businesses monthly. In an illustration of the impact COVID-19 is having on the region’s business, the majority of firms continued to see demand negatively affected during May, with the picture relatively unchanged month-on-month.

79 per cent experienced a fall in demand for their products and services, up one point on the month before. Meanwhile, 6 per cent had an increase in demand, down one point on April.

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Martyn Kendrick of Lloyds

The number of firms in the region operating at less than 50 per cent capacity decreased six points to 43 per cent. Almost a quarter (23 per cent) weren’t operating at all, up from 18 per cent in April.

Of the 73 per cent of businesses reporting disruption to their supply chain during May, 30 per cent expected the situation to improve within three months, while 11 per cent expected it would take more than 12 months to return to normal levels.

Martyn Kendrick, regional director for the North West at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Our data shows that many firms are still grappling with reduced demand, and almost a quarter have paused operations. However, confidence is beginning to creep back after April’s low, which is encouraging.

“We’re committed to helping firms across all sectors overcome the challenges being presented during this difficult time.”