The North East’s largest independent business survey has revealed worrying downward trends across key areas including cashflow and exporting.
North East England Chamber of Commerce’s Quarterly Economic Survey shows a marked decline in business confidence, concern about competition from and increased materials costs.
Chamber President, Lesley Moody, MBE said: “Unfortunately, the picture that emerges from this set of results is not a positive one, with worrying downward trends in some of our key indicators. These trends are undoubtedly linked to political and economic uncertainty.
“Firms are reporting significantly slower sales both domestically and overseas than this time last year, while the future outlook for exports among our service businesses is particularly worrying.
“The warning signs are clear. I hope these results serve as a wake-up call to Government and politicians who continue to focus on Westminster squabbles rather than the real needs and concerns of businesses in regions such as ours.”
The QES results also showed uncertainty is also having an effect on businesses’ investment plans. Scores for both training and plant investment, while still positive, have fallen back by 7.6 and 6.4 percentage points respectively from our Q1 2018 results.
Jonathan Walker, Chamber assistant director of policy said: “Last quarter we saw clear signs of the impact of tightness in the regional labour market. This appears to have eased slightly, with scores for recruitment over the past three months also moving back. Determining the extent to which this is caused by a lack of available talent or economic uncertainty is difficult. However, skills shortages remain one of the most frequently cited barriers to growth.”