Business confidence on the rise in the South West

Amanda Dorel

Business confidence in the South West during January, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

While firms in the South West reported lower confidence in their own business prospects month-on-month, down six points at 40%, their optimism in the wider economy climbed ten points to 36%. Taken together, this gives a headline confidence reading of 38% (vs. 36% in December).

South West businesses identified their top target areas for growth in the next six months as investing in their teams (49%), entering new markets (38%), and evolving products and services (36%).

A net balance of 43% of businesses in the South West also expect to increase staff levels over the next year, up 17 points on last month.

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

Amanda Dorel, regional director for the South West at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “It’s great to see the South West enter the new year with a rise in confidence.

“As part of the country with a particularly strong hospitality and tourism base, sticky inflation and relatively weak consumer demand will still be squeezing some businesses hard – a fact that is perhaps reflected in business’ feelings about their own trading prospects. But by the same token, 2024 is widely expected to bring better trading conditions – something this data shows businesses are already anticipating.

“However, and whenever, firms seek to capitalise on new opportunities over the months ahead, we’ll be by their side with our support.”