Service sector leads the way
The region’s strong service sector led the way over the last quarter with solid domestic sales growth; manufacturers too saw increases as companies focused on UK markets at the end of 2019. International sales remain subdued with manufacturing sales at their lowest level since 2016.
Confidence picked up in the last quarter as companies prepare to bring forward investment plans held up by the Brexit road block. Similarly, cash flow also improved but there is some evidence to suggest this might be at the expense of delayed payments. Given cash flow was a major challenge in 2019, as companies stockpiled in advance of the original March EU departure, this is a source of comfort as we start 2020.
Speaking about the results, Chamber Chair Nick Garthwaite said: “Now that we know the results of the general election our message to the Prime Minister is clear: restoring business, investor and consumer confidence – and firing up the economy – must now be his top priority. While the Prime Minister has a mandate, he should now listen to the voice of business, which went largely unheard during the election campaign. Without a thriving economy he will be unable to deliver on promises made. However, we continue, as a Chamber network, to call on the Prime Minister to ensure we do not face a disorderly exit from the EU at the end 2020.”
Roger March OBE DL, Chair of Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and Chair of the NP11, added: “The result of the General Election now provides certainty that Britain will leave the European Union at the end of January and the terms of the transition period. This does allow business to plan accordingly as we look now towards the next phase of negotiations over the future trading relationship.
“At the end of the fourth quarter of 2019, it is positive to see an improved picture from what we saw in third quarter. We are seeing continued employment growth, improved business confidence and increased domestic sales activity. This is good news for everyone in our region.”
About the quarterly economic survey
Now in its thirtieth year, this is the largest and longest running regional business survey.
Q4 survey results
Net balance figures referred to throughout the report are determined by subtracting the percentage of companies reporting decreases in a factor from the percentage of companies reporting increases.
- Domestic sales 14% up 13%
- Export sales 8% up 1
- Capital investment 20% up 8%
- Training investment 20% up 7%
- Business confidence 33% up 10%
- Domestic sales 33% up 12%
- Export sales 8% down 9%%
- Capital investment 23% up 3%
- Training investment 23% up 7%
- Business confidence 42% up 8%