The results of the latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) from the Chamber of Commerce show that economic conditions remain sluggish across Lancashire, with growth flatlining and business confidence weakening.
The Q3 2018 survey, compiled by the county’s three Chambers of Commerce in association with MHA Moore and Smalley Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors, reveals a much weaker picture for the county’s manufacturers who have reported static sales & orders at home and abroad, as well as a fall in current workforce levels and future employment expectations. The balance of manufacturers expecting their prices to increase also rose, with 63% citing the cost of raw materials as the driver of cost increases.
Domestic sales and orders in the service sector held steady and remained on par with Q2 – a welcome result given that the service sector is the main driver of economic activity and makes up two thirds of responses to the survey.
Notwithstanding, the results also show that firms in both sectors are scaling back their investment intentions and fewer firms are attempting recruit, which is perhaps understandable given the level of economic uncertainty they are currently facing.
Commenting on the results, Alan Welsh Policy Manager at the North & Western Lancashire Chamber said: “The latest results point to a definite weakening in the economy and it must be a matter of huge concern to government that sales and orders both at home and abroad are stagnating. Weaker sterling is no longer proving a boon to many of our exporters, while consumer spending is failing to boost the domestic market. We have a vibrant and innovative business community that wants to invest and grow, but we are stuck in limbo while Brexit negotiations rumble on. The Chancellor must use his upcoming budget to take decisive action to boost growth and productivity at precisely the moment that the economy needs it most.”