Business confidence hits a new low

North West businesses went from being among the most optimistic in the country in January to being one of the least during February.

According to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, companies across the region registered a confidence figure of 31% in February, a 16-point decline from January’s high of 47% when the region was the second most confident in the UK.

Companies in the North West report lower confidence in their business prospects at 25% and lower economic optimism at 37%.

Firms’ hiring intentions show that a net balance of 27% of businesses in the region expect to hire more staff during the next year, down 19 points from January’s figures.

Nationally, overall confidence fell two points to 33%, driven mainly by a fall in firms’ economic optimism.

Across the region, a net balance of 1% of businesses said they felt that the UK’s exit from the European Union was having a positive impact on their expectations for business activity, down 12 points from January’s figures.

Martyn Kendrick, regional director for the North West at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Although overall confidence across the region is still in line with the national average, it’s concerning to see that it’s fallen so significantly in the past month.

“This may be due to companies becoming more pessimistic about their future business prospects, which could have potentially led to firms scaling back plans to expand their workforce.

“Speaking to companies across the region, many are planning for growth with cautious confidence due to the current economic uncertainty.”

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