‘Historic setback’ in West Cheshire and North Wales economy

Debbie Bryce

The latest Quarterly Economic Survey from West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce has revealed the devastating impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the region’s economy.

The results show 12 key indicators of economic health, including sales, orders and cash flow, falling to their lowest levels on record.

The findings come as the chamber calls for a bolder roadmap to recovery that helps businesses across the region to restart, rebuild and renew.

The findings showed that UK and export sales fell to the lowest level on record with the service sector being the hardest hit. Businesses have also indicated a decrease in investment over the past three months as they focus on preserving cash buffers. And employment expectations in West Cheshire & North Wales also fell sharply, to their lowest level on record.

Hopes of a swift economic recovery could be dashed, as forward-looking indicators – orders and investment intentions – dropped to record lows for both services firms and manufacturers.

Business confidence in turnover and profitability over the next three months has also fallen to the lowest level on record.

Chamber chief executive, Debbie Bryce, said: “Our latest survey indicates an extraordinary contraction in the region’s economic activity in the second quarter as the coronavirus closed large parts of the economy, with the vast majority of indicators dropping to historic lows.

“Support is available to business communities in both West Cheshire, via UK Government and the Business Recovery Support Programme offered by Cheshire West and Chester Council, and North Wales, via Welsh Government, but they also want to see a clearer, bolder road map to recovery that helps them restart, rebuild and renew.

“The UK cannot meander its way back to success in this era of uncertainty.

“The only way to rekindle business and consumer confidence is to demonstrate an absolute and unshakeable focus on boosting the economy over the coming months.”

The survey took place between May 18, and June 11, receiving 76 responses from businesses employing more than 7,000 employees.

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