Business West’s regular survey of businesses in Swindon and Wiltshire has found that most economic indicators saw a decrease in the first quarter of the year, after the region ended 2015 on a positive note.
The survey of over 200 companies in February and March found that:
· The number of firms reporting increases in domestic sales (42%) and orders (39%) both fell by two points in the last three months.
· International sales (37%) and orders (34%) decreased by 18 and 19 points respectively
· Cashflow dropped eights points to 30%.
· Despite a decrease, over half (58%) of businesses remain confident for the year ahead.
· Recruitment this quarter (up two points to 25%) and hiring intentions for the next three months (up two points to 26%) were the only indicators that increased.
Commenting on the survey results, Ian Larrard, Director of the Swindon and Wiltshire Initiative, part of Business West, said:
“These survey results bring us back to ground after some encouraging news to close out 2015. It appears that global headwinds and the uncertainty surrounding the EU referendum have had a negative effect on our local economy.
“Our region has a higher than average dependency on the private sector, so this slowdown comes as no surprise after warning sign at the national level. The findings form part of the respected British Chambers of Commerce Quarterly Economic Survey, which found that the UK economic growth is starting to soften.
“The upcoming EU referendum appears to have had an impact on our ability to trade overseas, with both international sales and orders down this quarter as the referendum approaches in June.
“It isn’t all bad news, as over half of businesses are still confident for the year ahead, but this slowdown should keep our region’s businesses on their toes and remind government that long term prosperity is far from guaranteed.
“After the Chancellor delivered a business friendly budget last month, we must see even more action from government to address issues that hurt firms day in day out, such as the skills gap and ageing infrastructure.”
Pictured above: Ian Larrard, Director of the Swindon and Wiltshire Initiative, part of Business West