The Chamber’s Quarterly Economic Survey monitors economic trends and takes the business temperature, accurately and comprehensively, in a range of areas relevant to our members across West & North Yorkshire. The quarterly report is read by, and relied upon by policy makers across our region.
A solid start to 2017 (published Wed 3 May 2017)
Q1 2017 was the best quarter of the last 12 months, or so says many of the companies which responded to the latest Chamber quarterly economic survey. Businesses remain resilient and are adopting a “business as usual” approach to Brexit. Below is a summary of this quarter’s findings and the full report can be downloaded here.
Domestic sales: Improvements across all sectors in the last quarter as companies continued to report growth. The all-important service sector reversed four consecutive quarters of declining growth whilst manufacturers reported a solid start to 2017.
Export sales: Manufacturers continued to report export sales in increasing numbers, the Chamber’s measure is now at its highest point in two years. The service sector also reported improvements in overseas sales, back to its highest level in 12 months. No doubt currency fluctuations are playing a part, but so too is a rise in the global economic output, following nearly three years of decline, and is making a positive impact for those companies with international customers.
Employment: Employment within the manufacturing sector remains strong with the number of companies reporting increases at their highest level in two years. Despite this issues remain with companies pointing to a “skills drought” being responsible for recruitment difficulties. The services sector also remains strong with growth in hiring intentions unchanged on the previous quarter.
Investment: Capital investment by manufacturers continues to grow to a two year peak this quarter. We hear from companies that the availability of credit, historically low interest rates and a desire by the finance sector to support trading businesses is no doubt playing a part in this. With recruitment proving challenging in sectors such as manufacturing, digital and construction, our research shows more companies investing in training than not although this slowed in the last quarter.
Business confidence: There remains much positivity about the coming twelve months; however with the rise in upfront costs (pension’s auto-enrolment, national living wage, business rates, raw material and energy price inflation) this quarter saw a reduction in the number of companies expecting to see profit rises. Much of the UK economy is driven by consumer spending, and there are some early concerns that this may be reined in as inflationary pressures trickle through to everyday purchases.
Final comments: With the announcement of the general election, many companies will understandably be concerned that attention will inevitably shift from the economy and the intricacies of leaving the EU to a potential election campaign. Firms will want to be reassured that the key challenges facing the economy will be front and centre throughout any election period and to this end the Chamber has prepared its election manifesto which can be downloaded here.
Thank you to Ad:Venture for supporting the latest Quarterly Economic Survey – it is much appreciated. A contribution is included in the report.
Previous reports available below