The results of the latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) from the Lancashire Chambers of Commerce show that despite the global slowdown and fears over “Brexit” the Lancashire economy continues to experience slow but sustained growth.
The growth is mainly being driven by the services sector, although the Q1 figures show a decline in domestic sales and orders for service businesses.
In manufacturing, domestic sales and orders recovered slightly after a weak set of results in Q4 2015. However, the domestic balance measures were still below their historical average of the last four years.
The new survey, compiled by the county’s three Chambers in association with Moore and Smalley Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors, shows that Lancashire’s exporters continue to face difficulties. Despite some improvement on the previous quarter, the export balance measures in both sectors contracted again in Q1; further evidence, if needed, that the economy remains unbalanced and far too reliant on consumer spending.
There was positive news on employment with both sectors reporting an increase in workforce levels during Q1. Confidence that turnover and profitability will improve in the next twelve months also increased in both sectors.
The results from the Chambers of Commerce survey were revealed to an audience of local businesses at Preston’s College on Thursday morning by Stephen Gregson (pictured), Corporate Finance Director at Moore and Smalley.
Commenting on the survey, he said: “Another very interesting set of results. Interesting not only because of the fluctuations from one quarter and one year to the next, but also in the context of how they sit relative to the wider economic landscape.
“One the one hand there are hints that the underlying economy is performing somewhat more strongly than much of the official data might indicate; but on the other the sense emerges that the clock is ticking and that the Government should pay greater heed than it appears to be doing to the recommendations of, inter alia, the OECD and the IMF that austerity policies are harming the performance of many ‘developed’ economies.”
Babs Murphy, Chief Executive of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber, added: “Overall the results show that the Lancashire economy is making slow progress but there are challenges ahead. The UK trade deficit remains excessive and longer-term comparisons show a distinct worsening of our trade position.
“The Government must do more to address the growing imbalances in our economy. This must include supporting businesses who are looking to export and those trying to enter new export markets.”