The results of the latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) from the Lancashire Chambers of Commerce show an improved picture in terms of domestic sales for Lancashire firms.
The new survey, compiled by the county’s Chambers of Commerce in association with Moore and Smalley Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors, was completed by over 270 Lancashire firms operating across all sectors of the economy.
Having slowed significantly in the previous quarter, the services sector has rebounded strongly, although it’s not yet back to levels seen at the start of 2016. Nonetheless, the service sector is likely to have been the key driver of growth in the fourth quarter.
In the manufacturing sector, the percentage of firms reporting improved domestic sales remained broadly steady, whilst exporters once again saw an improvement in sales abroad mainly thanks to the fall in Sterling.
However, the survey also found that firms in both sectors, particularly in manufacturing, are facing pressure to raise prices, principally as a result of the cost of raw materials and other overheads.
The results from the Chambers of Commerce survey were revealed to an audience of local businesses at Preston’s College this morning (Tuesday 10th January) by Stephen Gregson (above), Corporate Finance Director at Moore and Smalley. Commenting on the survey, he said:
“In many respects the latest QES results hint at a positive recovery in confidence levels since the prior quarter. Those looking forward to Brexit might draw comfort from this; whilst those a little more concerned about the prospect would point out that it is still too early to tell.
“Nonetheless, when seen against the wider UK macro-economic backdrop, the QES suggests that perhaps there is a slightly greater level of confidence regarding our economic prospects in our part of the world. The bigger question for many is not whether growth will continue or, indeed, at what level it might do so – but rather whether it is the right kind of growth. The answer to that question is, I think, more nuanced.”
Babs Murphy, Chief Executive of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber, added:
“As we start 2017, businesses are continuing to trade through the uncertainty, and are looking to seize opportunities as they arise. Our findings suggest that businesses across Lancashire remain resilient, and many firms are expecting continued growth in the months ahead.
“Our research suggests growth will continue in the near-term, albeit at a more modest pace. The government must act strongly this year to support investment and improve the business environment – both of which are crucial to boosting business confidence, and therefore further growth.”