Study shows new drop in business confidence

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Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce.

BUSINESS confidence has dipped again in the past three months, according to a major survey.

The latest Coventry and Warwickshire Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) has revealed a second successive fall in the economic outlook for the region.

In the last quarter, the manufacturing sector reported a fall in both domestic orders and overseas orders, while the service sector also saw a decline in overseas sales.

There was positive news in the service sector, as domestic orders rose again from 65.2 to 66.1 after a small fall in the first quarter of 2018.

The index on employment saw a fall in both the service and manufacturing sectors from 61.0 to 59.5 in the service industry and from 68.1 to 67.5 in manufacturing.

There was an improvement in investment in both training and equipment in the manufacturing sector, but a dip in the service sector.

All in all, it led to the overall business confidence index falling from 77.6 to 76.5 in the service sector and from 83.8 to 78.1 in manufacturing.

Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce carries out the QES in conjunction with Warwickshire County Council.

Chamber chief executive, Louise Bennett, said: “The QES is a great gauge of how businesses are feeling across our patch and the results bear out what we are hearing anecdotally from companies.

“There is still confidence and optimism in this region, which is why the index is still positive and way ahead of the national picture, but there is also an element of uncertainty creeping in which has seen the index drop slightly.

“It’s important to recognise that there is still strong confidence in the region and that companies, generally, have a positive outlook about doing business here.

“But, equally, as a Chamber we will continue to give firms as much support as possible to help them grow either through getting out there and meeting potential new clients and, also, supporting and advising them on opportunities that are out there.”

David Ayton-Hill, economy and skills group manager at Warwickshire County Council, said: “The changes reported in the results do not lead to any immediate concerns over business activity within Coventry and Warwickshire, it is perhaps worth noting that there has been a marked increase this quarter in businesses highlighting uncertainty over Brexit as being a key area of concern.

“Economic theory highlights the importance of certainty and stable conditions to promote and stimulate business investment and confidence.

“Until there is some more clarity around the Brexit negotiations, it is likely that we will continue to see some downward pressures on these indices, particularly the elements that are looking at future market opportunities and conditions.”

A Business Outlook event, which will discuss and analyse the results of the QES, is being held at Billesley Manor Hotel between Alcester and Stratford, on Friday, 6th July.