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North East Business Survey Reflects Difficult End to 2019

The biggest independent survey of business confidence in the North East has shown a decline in business performance and confidence in the final three months of 2019.

North East England Chamber of Commerce’s Quarterly Economic Survey represents views of its 3,000 members on trading conditions and forecasts for the future.

Responding to the fourth quarter results, Lesley Moody, Chamber President said: “The results for the end of last year paint a worrying picture for the direction of the regional economy; continuing a trend we saw in the third quarter.

“In particular, investment has slowed down dramatically, while export sales continue to disappoint.

“This survey was conducted during the recent election campaign and it is clear to see that political and economic uncertainty is causing real difficulties for business.

“Following the election, we hope that stability will ensue and that confidence will return. However, Government should see these results as a stark indicator of the need to secure a positive Brexit outcome that supports our international traders and to turn warm words on regional investment into swift actions.”

While some scores in this quarter’s results still show growth, the general story is one of a business and economic slowdown

Export sales have fallen further and remain at a low not seen since mid-2009, while domestic sales growth has decline dramatically from this time last year. On all scores, manufacturers are faring worse than service firms.  Perhaps the most worrying finding in this survey is deterioration in cashflow, which is often a leading indicator of a downturn.

Concerns surrounding Brexit continued to be the most widely mentioned barrier to business success. Survey respondents highlighted uncertainties resulting in reduced investment and customer cautiousness. Difficulties were also attributed to economic conditions and a slowdown in the economy.

The QES is produced in association with Durham University Business School.

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