Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Yorkshire business confidence soars to highest level since February 2020

Business confidence in Yorkshire rose 20 points during April to 32%, the highest reading since February 2020, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Companies in Yorkshire reported higher confidence in their trading prospects month-on-month, up 21 points to 29%. When taken alongside their optimism in the economy, up 18 points to 34%, this gives a headline confidence reading of 32%.

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

When it comes to jobs, Yorkshire firms are still committed to recruiting new staff, with 5% expecting to make hires over the next 12 months, down three points on last month.

Overall UK business confidence surged 14 points in April to 29%, the highest reading since September 2018. The result follows the reopening of outdoor hospitality venues and non-essential retail and personal services providers in England and comes ahead of further restrictions easing in Wales and Scotland. Firms’ confidence in their own business prospects rose by 14 points to 26%, and their optimism in the economy increased by 15 points to 32%.

Most UK regions and nations reported a month-on-month increase in confidence during April, alongside Yorkshire and the Humber, firms in the South West (up 22 points to 30%), London (up 20 points to 32%), and the East Midlands (up 20 points to 40%) reported the largest surges. No nation or region reported a fall in confidence, and nowhere had a net-negative confidence reading for the first time since July 2019.

Steve Harris, regional director for Yorkshire at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “The hospitality sector sits at the heart of the Yorkshire economy, so businesses being able to welcome customers back, hopefully for good, for outdoor drinking and dining has provided the shot in the arm that the region needed after the latest lockdown.

“We expect to see confidence continue to strengthen as further restrictions are lifted over the coming weeks. We’ll remain by the side of businesses across Yorkshire as they navigate this critical time.”

Confidence increased in all business sectors in April, with manufacturing and retail confidence levels at three-year highs. Manufacturing stood out as the most positive sector (40%), likely reflecting strong global demand and notwithstanding ongoing supply chain issues. Retail confidence jumped to 39%, while construction confidence also increased to 28%. Services confidence rose to 25%, which was also the highest it has been since 2018.

Hann-Ju Ho, Senior Economist, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “A third consecutive monthly rise in business confidence alongside the highest level of confidence for two-and-a-half years tells us a positive story about the UK’s continued economic recovery and leaves us optimistic about the road ahead.

“While uncertainties remain regarding the evolution of the pandemic, this month’s improvement in sentiment reflects a further easing of COVID-19 restrictions, while progress in vaccine deployment is raising hopes that the negative impact of the health crisis will continue to fall in the months ahead as the economy reopens.”

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