Businesses from across the region show some signs of ‘stability’ and ‘improvement’ amidst great economic uncertainty, results from the Mid Yorkshire Chamber’s latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) reveal.
Despite Brexit concerns continuing to inhibit strategic business solutions for many, businesses from across the Halifax, Huddersfield and Wakefield districts have reported encouraging results with home sales and orders continuing to improve compared with the 2018 Quarter 4 Survey.
The quarterly business barometer survey - conducted by the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) - tracks trends in various aspects of economic activity including domestic and export sales, past and future employment, recruitment, and confidence in future turnover and profitability.
Having defied most economic forecasts, 85 per cent of respondents reported that UK sales either increased or remained constant during the first quarter of 2019 – a level not seen since 2015.
In a similar vein, 84 per cent of respondents indicated ‘increased’ or ‘remained constant’ balances for UK orders during this period, a 12 percentage point increase compared with 2018 Quarter 4, providing some reasons for cautious optimism as the impending EU exit looms.
While turnover expectations fell by 11 points in Quarter 1, profitability balances stabilised at 39 per cent, with respondents reporting ‘increased’ or ‘remained constant’ balances for turnover and profitability, of 86 per cent and 84 per cent respectively.
As well as profitability stabilising many companies reported robust balances for employment and employment expectations. This is corroboration by official ONS statistics highlighting record numbers of people in employment, and very low levels of unemployment.
The survey also indicates that investments in training are increasing - up from 14 per cent to 21 per cent from Quarter 4 - while cashflow and investments in plant and machinery have stabilised.
While the overall outlook for businesses within the region is good, export sales and orders dipped slightly, falling by 2 points to 18 per cent.
The weaker Pound has caused significant increased costs of imported raw materials making overseas trading increasingly difficult and weakening the UK’s net trade position.
Steven Leigh, head of policy and representation at the Mid Yorkshire Chamber said:
“The latest survey has produced an optimistic set of results, reflecting the strength of our region as a whole despite concerns about the outcome of Brexit negotiations continuing to inhibit strategic business decisions. Despite difficult conditions, businesses within our Chamber area have demonstrated their resourcefulness and resilience, which is a promising start for 2019.
“Our members, and the wider business community can be assured that whatever challenges arise as the year progresses, we will continue to support and assist them with the delivery of sustainable economic growth in our region.”Fieldwork for Quarter 2 survey will begin on 20 May and the results will be released on 1 July.
A summary of results can be viewed here
Full QES analysis can be viewed here