Confidence slowly returns among North West firms

Latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking reveals business confidence in the region is rising, but is still at historic low levels. Tony McDonough reports

Business, meeting, professionals
Business, meeting, professionals

 

Businesses confidence in the North West is rising as the UK emerges from lockdown but remains close to historic lows, a new study reveals.

The latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking reveals business confidence in the region increased 10 points during May to -25% The Business Barometer questions 1,200 businesses monthly and provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide.

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.

It showed that 79% experienced a fall in demand for their products and services, up one point on the month before. Meanwhile, 6% experienced an increase in demand, down one point on April.

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

Of the 73% of businesses reporting disruption to their supply chain during May, 30% expected the situation to improve within three months, while 11% 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.”

Across the UK, business confidence held steady month-on-month, dipping just one point to  -33%. The North East and London both saw confidence rise month-on-month, scoring the joint-highest confidence reading at -20%. The South West recorded lowest confidence at  -51%, compared to -35% the month prior.

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