Business confidence in Yorkshire improves for third consecutive month

Business confidence in Yorkshire and the Humber improved for the third consecutive month in August, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Business confidence is starting to improve across Yorkshire

Companies in the region reported higher confidence in their own business prospects month-on-month at -12%. When taken alongside their views of the economy overall, this gives a headline confidence reading of -13%, slightly above the UK average of -14%.

The Business Barometer questions 1,200 businesses monthly and provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide.

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When asked about the impact COVID-19 was having on their business, the majority of firms continued to see demand negatively affected during August.

While still in negative territory, August’s Barometer reading shows a big improvement in Yorkshire firms’ overall outlook

Three in five firms (59%) experienced a fall in demand for their products and services, down eight points on the month before. Meanwhile, 7% experienced an increase in demand, down five points on July.

More than a third (37%) of Yorkshire firms surveyed said they weren’t currently using the Job Retention Scheme.

When asked about social distancing measures, almost half (49%) of businesses said they could, in theory, operate at full capacity while remaining COVID-secure, although more than a fifth (21%) said they couldn’t operate fully within the rules.

Of the 51% of businesses reporting disruption to their supply chain during August, 42% expected the situation to improve within six months, while only 3% expected it would take more than 12 months to return to normal levels.

Paul Varley, regional director for Yorkshire and the Humber at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “While still in negative territory, August’s Barometer reading shows a big improvement in Yorkshire firms’ overall outlook. The signs suggest that the gradual re-opening of the economy is beginning to provide a tailwind for the region’s firms, after July’s figures showed only a marginal uptick in business prospects.

“But hurdles remain as parts of West Yorkshire are under local lockdown, which could be holding back some spending from consumers and businesses. We’ll continue to be by the side of the region’s firms as they face into the challenges presented by this pandemic. and look ahead to recovery.”