Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
8:00 AM 26th February 2021

Yorkshire Business Confidence Tips Into Positive Territory

Business confidence in Yorkshire rose by eight points during February to 4%, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Although companies in Yorkshire reported marginally lower confidence in their own business prospects month-on-month, down two points at -8%, their economic optimism, up 19 points to 16%, resulted in a headline confidence reading of 4%.
Lloyds Bank’s Business Barometer for February 2021 shows:

Overall confidence of firms in Yorkshire rose eight points in the past month to 4%.
Optimism grows in all UK regions as firms expect lockdown restrictions to ease in the coming weeks
Overall UK business confidence back in positive territory for the first time since March 2020

The Business Barometer questions 1,200 businesses monthly and provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide.
This month’s figures point to increased hope for a brighter future among Yorkshire and the Humber’s firms.

When it comes to jobs, a net balance of 1% of businesses in the region expect to increase staff levels over the next year, up 22 points on last month.

Across the UK, overall business confidence rose in February as the government announced it would be creating a ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown. Confidence increased by nine points to 2%, the first net positive reading since March 2020. Firms’ economic optimism also jumped 12 points month-on-month to 2%.

All UK nations and regions saw a month-on-month increase in confidence in February, with the biggest increases in the North West (13% vs -5% in January), the East Midlands (10% vs -8% in January), Wales (-5% vs -20% in January) and Scotland (-17% vs -32% in January). Despite this, four remained in net negative territory with Wales (-5%), the South West (-6%), the East of England (-8%), and Scotland (-17%) all in the red.

Steve Harris
Steve Harris
Steve Harris, regional director for Yorkshire and Humber at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “This month’s figures point to increased hope for a brighter future among Yorkshire and the Humber’s firms. Confidence has moved into net positive territory for the first time in ten months, and the significant uptick in hiring intentions is the clearest sign yet that the success of the UK’s vaccine rollout and hopes of easing restrictions is starting to affect business optimism. Following the PM’s announcement earlier this week, businesses hopes are likely to have increased further.

“While firms will still face challenges, we’ll continue to support their growth and success as we navigate a return to normality in the coming months.”

Hann-Ju Ho
Hann-Ju Ho
Confidence increased across all four broad industry sectors to the highest levels since March 2020. After a soft start to the year, manufacturing jumped by fourteen points to 5%, while construction rose eight points to 7%. Confidence in retail extended nine points to 3%, while services advanced by ten points to 1%, led by broad-based improvements in the subsectors.

Hann-Ju Ho, Senior Economist, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “The uplift in business confidence and its entry into positive territory after nearly a year suggests that firms are cautiously pinning their hopes on economic revival in the future and the continued success of the vaccine rollout. In the coming weeks, announcements in the Budget and prospects of an easing of lockdown restrictions will hopefully help to bolster the recovery in business confidence as the economy starts to reopen.”