In uncertain economic times – how is your business faring?
The results from Quarter 4 revealed a stalling economy that was being impacted by continued levels of uncertainty. Growth in domestic sales and orders reduced and firms faced recruitment difficulties continued and persistent price pressures. In the services sector, a key driver of UK economic growth, the percentage of firms reporting an increase in domestic sales and orders weakened and domestic activity among UK manufacturers fell drastically.
In Norfolk nearly four-fifths (79%) of manufacturers that tried to recruit reported difficulties in finding the right staff, whilst 74% Norfolk of the services sector also reported that they were struggling to recruit. The previous survey results indicated an increase in price pressures and an increase is the number of manufacturers expecting to raise prices.
Now in the first Quarter of 2019, with the Brexit deadline fast approaching – we need to understand how Norfolk businesses are reacting to the current economic climate. Today (Monday 18 February 2019) is the first day of the fieldwork period for the Q1 Quarterly Economic Survey (QES).
The QES is the largest independent business survey in the UK and is used by both the Bank of England and the Chancellor of the Exchequer to plan the future of the UK economy. It is also closely watched by the International Monetary Fund. It is vital that as many Norfolk businesses as possible take part, so we get a true reflection of the local economy.
You can have your say by completing the QES online NOW. It takes less than 3 minutes. The completion deadline for this survey is midnight on Monday 11 March 2019. The Q1 results will be published week commencing 01 April 2019.
Key Norfolk findings in the Q4 2018 survey:
Norfolk Manufacturing sector:
- The balance of firms reporting increased domestic sales fell drastically and those reporting improved domestic orders also fell
- The balance of firms reporting improved export sales rose several points from +38 to +43, while the balance of those reporting improved export orders rose from +27 to +43
- The balance of firms expecting to raise prices in the next three months stands at +53, up from +40 in Q3
- The percentage of firms citing the cost of raw materials as the source of cost pressures continued its upwards trend from the last quarter, now at 94%, the highest since Q2 2013
- The percentage of firms attempting to recruit remained fairly static - moving upwards by only one point to 74%. Of those, 79% reported recruitment difficulties
Norfolk Services sector:
- The balance of firms reporting increased domestic sales rose. Those reporting improved domestic orders also rose slightly
- The balance of firms reporting improved export sales fell drastically from the previous quarter of +14 to -5, while those reporting improved export orders also fell from +10 to -9
- The balance of firms expecting to increase prices in the next three months stands at +38, down slightly from +42 in Q3
- The percentage of firms looking to recruit dipped from +73 to +70.Of those, 76% had recruitment difficulties, down slightly from a high of 84% in the previous quarter