Outlook positive for region’s businesses despite confidence dip

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Confidence among businesses in the East Midlands remains above the national average despite falling by 13 points during November.

In November, business confidence fell to 42%, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Companies in the East Midlands reported lower confidence in their own business prospects month-on-month, down 11 points at 41%.  When taken alongside their optimism in the economy, down 17 points to 42%, this gives a headline confidence reading of 42%.

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

A net balance of 17% of businesses in the region expect to increase staff levels over the next year, down 26 points on last month.

Overall, UK business confidence was buoyant in November at 40%, down just three points on October’s reading of 43%.

Both firms’ confidence in their own trading prospects and optimism in the economy remained comfortably in positive territory, each dipping just three points month-on-month to 39% and 41% respectively.

Amanda Dorel, regional director for the East Midlands at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Although confidence has dipped here in the East Midlands, it remains higher than the national average, and there are reasons to be optimistic. With the region’s strength in manufacturing, those in consumer-facing sectors like fashion will be looking forward to the opportunities created by the coming festive season.

“We’ll be by the side of local businesses to help them make the most of any opportunities that come their way.”

At a sector level, confidence slipped in manufacturing (42%), to its lowest since August, linked to the persistence of supply-chain disruptions, while it fell to a seven-month low of 28% in construction.

In contrast, the retail sector (45%) bucked the trend with a pickup in confidence, reflecting hopes for higher spending ahead as the festive period approaches.

Services confidence (41%) fell slightly, with strong growth for financial & business services and communications offset by more downbeat responses from education, health and public administration.