East Midlands firms among ‘least pessimistic’ in the UK

Firms in the East Midlands are among the most confident in the UK, a report out today has revealed.

Business confidence in the East Midlands rose six points during September to -4%, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Companies in the East Midlands showed the greatest optimism in the economy of all UK regions at 4%, but confidence in their own business prospects dipped one point month-on-month to -13%.

Taken together, this gives a headline confidence reading of -4%, the highest in the country alongside London and Wales.

The Business Barometer questions 1,200 businesses monthly and provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide.

When asked about the impact COVID-19 was having on their business, the majority of firms continued to see demand negatively affected by coronavirus during September, but with the picture improving month-on-month. 57% experienced a fall in demand for their products and services, down three points on the month before. Meanwhile, 12% experienced an increase in demand, up six points on August.

More than two-fifths (42%) of East Midlands firms surveyed said they aren’t currently using the Job Retention Scheme.

When asked about the impact of social distancing measures, 61% of businesses said they could, in theory, operate at full capacity while remaining COVID-secure, although 30% said they couldn’t operate fully within the rules.

Of the 57% of businesses reporting disruption to their supply chain during September, two fifths (41%) expected the situation to improve within six months, while 5% expect it will take more than 12 months to return to normal levels.

Amanda Dorel regional director for the East Midlands at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “It is encouraging to see business confidence climbing in the East Midlands since May.
“But the outlook is increasingly uncertain. The tightening of restrictions will dampen the trading prospects of many firms, including late night bars, hospitality businesses reliant on office worker footfall, and sports venues.

“We remain by the side of East Midlands businesses as they plan to meet new challenges head on.”