Rise in business confidence across East of England

Rise in business confidence across East of England

Business confidence in the East of England rose two points during May to 26%, the highest level recorded since February 2020, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Companies reported higher confidence in their own business prospects month-on-month, up eight points at 25%hen taken alongside their optimism in the economy, down four points to 27%, this gives a headline confidence reading of 26%.

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, a net balance of 15% of businesses in the region expect to increase staff levels over the next year, up 10 points on last month and the highest reading since January 2020.

Overall UK business confidence rose four points in May to 33%, a fourth consecutive month of growth. The reading comes after non-essential retail and hospitality firms reopened their doors to customers. Businesses reported an increase in optimism about their own trading prospects, up two points month-on-month to 28% and their confidence in the economy grew by six points to 38%.

Firms’ hiring intentions also rebounded to pre-pandemic levels with 14% of UK businesses expecting to make new hires in the next 12 months, the highest reading since February 2020.

All UK regions reported a net positive confidence reading in May, with almost all areas recording an increase in confidence. Yorkshire and the Humber was the most positive region (up 12 points to 44%) followed by the South West (up 12 points to 42%) and the West Midlands (up 10 points to 41%). Wales reported the biggest month-on-month increase (up 18 points to 27%). Three regions reported small dips in confidence but remained in positive territory; London (down eight points to 24%), the North East (down 11 points to 26%) and North West (down five points to 38%).

Dave Atkinson, regional director for the East of England at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Business confidence in the East of England soared last month and it’s encouraging to see sentiment continuing to climb this month, as further restrictions are eased.

“The region’s famous hospitality and leisure sector benefited from the ability to again welcome indoor and overnight customers, and that’s reflected in the rising number of businesses planning to hire more staff.

“Whatever the coming weeks and months may bring, we’ll remain by the side of businesses in the East, providing the financial support and guidance to help firms prepare for what we all hope will be a summer of success.”

From a sector perspective, manufacturing reported the sharpest increase in business confidence (up thirteen points to 53%). Construction confidence was up seven points to 35%, and retail gained five points to a four-year high of 44% with the easing of lockdown measures leading to hopes of stronger business conditions. Wider services confidence posted a more modest rise of one point to 26%.

Hann-Ju Ho, senior economist for Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “A fourth consecutive monthly increase in business confidence, and the highest in three years, leaves us hopeful for the UK’s economic recovery. The increase in confidence was buoyed by a further easing of lockdown restrictions and a rise in optimism about the wider economy.

“While we need to wait and see how the months ahead will unfold, the recent rise in positive outlook is an encouraging sign that firms are emerging from the Covid-19 crisis with renewed resilience and vigour.”

For all your business banking needs visit the Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking website 

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