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New record low for small business confidence in South West, finds FSB survey

Small business confidence levels in the South West ended 2022 at a new record low, according to a sentiment survey by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

The quarterly confidence report showed a record level of pessimism among local SMEs outside of the lockdown periods.

The stats, for the period October-December, showed that fears of inflation, falling consumer demand and the general cost of doing business left confidence levels considerably lower than the previous quarter.

It also meant that, once again, the South West was the least confident area in the UK.

In addition to the overall confidence figures, the report also revealed a continued decline in revenue among the small businesses surveyed, an increase in the number of businesses shedding staff and growing pessimism about trading conditions in the immediate future.

Only a modest increase in the number of businesses planning to invest in the coming months provided any real positivity in the findings.

FSB South West regional policy representative, Craig Carey-Clinch, said the report summed up the sentiment many businesses felt about 2022 – a year that began with optimism but rapidly went down.

“It all began with a renewed sense of hope as we looked to have Covid behind us but then it all got gradually worse as domestic and international events combined to wreck hopes, ambitions and small businesses’ finances,” he said.

Looking ahead, Craig said he hoped 2023 would see a reversal in small business fortunes but he called on the powers that be to play their part to make that happen.

“We can only hope that we have now reached the bottom of this cycle and 2023 can start to slowly but surely change the narrative.

“Small businesses and the self-employed here in the South West will do everything they can to try to change things but, as ever, we can’t do it alone.

“We need sympathetic, innovative and supportive people at the heart of Government to put business first and help us keep our great local businesses and entrepreneurs on track to begin the economic fight back we all crave.”

The FSB South West report can be downloaded at

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