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Phil Smith of Business West

Trade in the West closed with a whisper, new survey suggests

A new survey suggests that business in the West fizzled out, rather than ending 2014 with a bang.

Unveiling the findings of its quarterly report, which polled 600 businesses across the West, including Swindon and Wiltshire firms, Business West said:

  • Domestic sales decreased one point to 49 percent
  • Export sales remained constant at 37 percent
  • Expectation to take on staff in the next three months dropped two points to 29 percent
  • Cashflow decreased three points to 37 percent
  • Business confidence decreased four points to 65 percent

Commenting on the local business survey results, Phil Smith, managing director of Business West, said: “The results of our local business survey carried out in November and December confirm that there is still a lot of work to be done to secure sustainable growth.

“Last year had the hallmarks of an historic year in which the UK finally pulled out a crippling recession.

“However, these results show that our local economy closed out on a whimper in contrast to the national picture which saw business bounce back to close out the year.

“The booming business confidence we saw in our region during the first two quarters of the year was muted in Q3 by a disruptive Scottish Independence Referendum and over the last three months we have seen confidence decrease again; back below this time last year.

But the findings weren’t all bad news, he insisted.

“Whilst this is not the great news we had hoped for, it is not necessarily bad news either, there are some positive messages to be taken.

“In December we saw unemployment in the South West fall again and remain well below the national average. We also saw upbeat news in international markets, with export orders up in Q4 and both export orders and sales up on this time last year.

“This bodes well for our #GetExporting campaign aiming to get 2,020 more local businesses exporting by 2020.

And he said that the findings should be a wake-up call to Government in election year.

“Figures that saw us close out 2014 on a flat note are a wake up call for business to lobby politicians at this crucial political time.

“Shortly we will be releasing our business manifesto, ensuring that the voice of business features in every prospectus and in the words of every campaigning candidate. A year with so much promise ended somewhat disappointingly, with decreases in domestic sales, recruitment intentions and confidence.

“With the May election looming we must remind politicians that as the punches start to fly between parties on important issues such as the NHS and immigration, business issues should not fall by the wayside.

“After all, in the famous words of Bill Clinton: ‘it’s the economy, stupid.’”