Lancashire’s economy is showing slow progress as it eases its way out of a post-pandemic world, the latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) shows.
A slight growth in domestic trade, optimism in business confidence and minor improvements in recruitment are mirrored by a fall in exporting and price rises and inflation fears as the county braces itself for an uncertain economic winter.
But there are reasons for optimism with profits on the rise with over half of the respondents to the QES buoyed by the national trend and showing profits in the last quarter. Both the manufacturing and service sector have shown improvements in the last three months.
Domestically, both sectors grew with almost 40% of businesses reporting an increase, although international trade – caused mainly by legacy Brexit issues – has fallen with just 20% saying they had seen an increase in exporting overseas.
The county is following the UK trend with slight growth in the manufacturing sector and a surprised easing of inflation has led to some businesses seeing an increase in employment, though this is slightly tarnished by labour costs, raw materials and utility prices continuing to be high.
The results of the QES were delivered at the Chamber’s quarterly Lancashire Economic Breakfast at Preston College in front of an audience of decision-makers from across the county.
Nationally, the British Chambers of Commerce – which saw over 5,000 respondents to the survey – has seen no overall improvement in business conditions in the last quarter, while inflationary pressures have led to a slight ease in concerns, though manufacturing, on the whole, has seen a decline.
Babs Murphy, CEO of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The latest results from the QES show some reasons for optimism for the Lancashire economy but we are long way from being at the end of the road to recovery.
“Legacy issues from Brexit, confusion in the international markets and the uncertainty over inflation, interest rates and the cost of living continue to hamper progress. Until a clear and defined strategy for recovery can be found, Lancashire businesses are going to have to be braced for more fluctuation.
“Having said that, the county’s businesses are a resilient bunch and will continue to make bold and brace decisions in light of the economic uncertainty and hopefully, continue to thrive under pressure.”
The full results of the latest ‘QES’ will be unveiled at the Chamber’s Lancashire Economic Breakfast, next week, in association with Ryan. Places can be secured here.