Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the North
12:43 PM 30th October 2020

Yorkshire Business Confidence Sinks To Lowest In UK

Business confidence in Yorkshire & the Humber fell 21 points during October to -29%, the lowest of any region in the UK, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.
“A challenging winter lies ahead with the introduction of stricter measures across the rest of the region likely, affecting trade and firms’ ability to operate."

Companies in the region reported lower confidence in their own business prospects month-on-month at -28%. When taken alongside their views of the economy overall, this gives a headline confidence reading of -29%.
Lloyds Bank’s Business Barometer for October 2020 shows:
Overall confidence of firms in Yorkshire fell 21 points in the past month to -29%
Firms’ confidence in their own business prospects was -28%, compared with -5% in September

When it comes to businesses’ hiring intentions, a net balance of 23% expect to reduce staff levels over the next year, down four points month-on-month, representing a marginal improvement.

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

Across the UK, overall confidence dropped seven points month-on-month to -18%. While confidence about businesses’ own trading prospects dipped by only one point, their optimism in the economy fell by 14 points. UK business confidence has remained in negative territory since April, but the picture had been improving until October, with confidence steadily rising since May.

Steve Harris
Steve Harris
Steve Harris, regional director for Yorkshire & the Humber at Lloyds Bank, said: “This month’s data was captured before South Yorkshire moved into tier three, but clearly confidence had already plummeted – likely due to the demand-dampening effects of rising COVID-19 cases and the threat of tighter local lockdown restrictions.

“A challenging winter lies ahead with the introduction of stricter measures across the rest of the region likely, affecting trade and firms’ ability to operate. We remain by the side of local businesses as they navigate the months to come.”

National overview

The North West had the highest confidence in October at -2%, followed by the East of England (-8%), and North East (-10%).

In the industry sectors, services slipped back, with confidence declining by fourteen points to -24%. The decline was driven by hospitality and arts and leisure grappling with the implications of recently introduced measures to tackle the pandemic. Manufacturing and retail logged modest improvements, up three points to -15% and up one point to -7% respectively.

Hann-Ju Ho,
Hann-Ju Ho,
Hann-Ju Ho, Senior Economist, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “The resurgence in coronavirus cases and the reintroduction of local lockdown measures saw overall business confidence fall back sharply this month. Added to that are ongoing uncertainties regarding new trading arrangements with the EU in January. All of this makes the economic outlook uncertain and the period ahead will be pivotal for businesses as they navigate the winter months and continue to adapt to the evolving landscape.”