A survey of 2,600 UK exporters has revealed that the recovery in export sales has largely stalled in Q3. The proportion of firms reporting increased sales rose only three points (to 30%) from Q2 (27%), whilst the proportion reporting decreased sales fell by just two points (Q3:26%/ Q2: 28%).
New data shows export recovery remains flat amid disruption to supply chains
- Proportion of UK exporters reporting increased export sales (30%) rose slightlyfrom Q2 (27%)
- However,proportion reporting decreased sales remained stubbornly and historically high at 26%, while 45% report no change
- Recovery in manufacturing exports began to fall back slightlyfrom previous quarter
The balance of manufacturers reporting increased export sales was +7%, down from +8% in Q2.
The balance of service sector firms reporting increased export sales was +6%, up from –7% in Q2.
Respondents cited issues arising from the supply chain crisis, as well as Brexit related problems, as the main causes of difficulties with export sales. Some said that they had ceased exporting to the EU altogether due to issues such as red tape and delays at borders. Respondents also pointed to the surging cost of shipping as a serious issue, with one firm noting a single container from China rose in cost from £2100 in the previous year to £15000, as well as the shortage of lorry drivers as impacting export sales.
Elsewhere, UK exporters were slightly more likely to report increased investment plans (30%) than non-exporters (25%), although both groups remain at historically low levels. However, on other key indicators such as cash flow, both groups were broadly aligned – 34% of exporters reported increased cash, compared to 33% of non-exporters, while 23% of exporters reported a decrease, compared to 22% of non-exporters.