Brexit having ‘tangible effect’ on East Mids business activity

Business sales and activity fell at the end of 2018, according to latest available data from the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber says that slowdown resulted in overall business activity and sentiment across the region falling to a level not seen since immediately after the EU Referendum in 2016.

In the latter part of 2018, business sales and activity levels – both domestic and international – dropped markedly according to the results of the East Midlands Chamber’s fourth Quarterly Economic Survey of the year.

For the first time in many years, the survey showed a decline in sales to important export markets such as the Middle East and Africa. Firms trading with the EU saw the smallest growth since the Chamber’s records began 12 years ago.

Scott Knowles, chief executive at the Chamber, said: “An important difference between this slow down and that seen in mid-2016, is that two years ago it was very much about reduced confidence – particularly for a short period of time immediately after the referendum result, which surprised many.

“At the end of last year, longer-term confidence actually remained relatively robust. However, what we did see was a decline in tangible products and services leaving factories, offices and shops.

“We have to be a little bit careful about what this means. One swallow doesn’t make a summer and performance over coming quarters will be telling. However, we can say that the continued uncertainty around Brexit – and the imminence of the UK leaving the EU – is having a tangible impact on activity.”

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