Region’s business confidence increases for second consecutive month

Business confidence in the North West rose four points during September to 38%, a second consecutive month of growth, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Companies in the North West reported lower confidence in their own business prospects month-on-month, down one point at 45%.

When taken alongside their optimism in the economy, up eight points to 30%, this gives a headline confidence reading of 38%.

North West businesses identified their top target areas for growth in the next six months as evolving their offer (37%), investing in their teams (33%) and entering new markets (29%).

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

A net balance of 23% of businesses in the region expect to increase staff levels over the next year, down five points on last month.

Overall UK business confidence fell five points in September from 41% to 36%. Firms’ outlook on their own trading prospects remained strong at 41% despite a five-point drop on last month, and their optimism in the UK economy also remained robust at 30%, down by seven points on August’s reading.

Businesses hiring intentions remained upbeat with 26% of firms reporting plans to increase their staff levels over the next year, down five points on last month.

Jenny France, area director of the North West at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “It’s great to see North West business confidence continue to climb as we head towards the end of the year. Firms in the region are committed to investing in their workforce, which can provide a fantastic avenue for growth.

“With the employment market remaining tight, North West businesses planning to invest in their teams now will also be putting themselves in good stead for the months and years to come. We’ll be by their side, providing the tools and support they need to upskill and grow.”

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