Yorkshire business confidence flat despite easing of lockdown

The reopening of the economy following lockdown appears to have done little to raise confidence among business leaders, research shows.

According to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, companies’ confidence in their own business prospects was unchanged month-on-month.

When asked about the impact Covid-19 was having on their business, the majority of firms continued to see demand negatively affected during July, but with the picture slightly worsening month-on-month.

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A total of 67 per cent experienced a fall in demand for their products and services, up four points on the month before.

Gyms have reopened

Just 12 per cent experienced an increase in demand, down two points on June.

Almost two in five Yorkshire firms surveyed said they were not currently using the job retention scheme and two in five said they could not operate at full capacity while maintaining social distancing.

However, while 56 per cent of Yorkshire businesses reported disruption to their supply chain during July, 42 per cent expected the situation to improve within six months, with no firms expecting it to take longer than 12 months.

Paul Varley, regional director for Yorkshire & the Humber at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “It is still too early for the reopening of sectors like retail and hospitality to have had a noticeable impact on the Yorkshire economy and along with it, business confidence. Firms across the board remain challenged by supply chain disruption, headcount worries and weakened demand – dampening their overall outlook.

“There’s a long way to go on the road to recovery, but one encouraging sign is that the North East has edged very close to a return to optimism this month. As businesses continue to reopen and pick up pace post-lockdown, we can hope for a similar picture to emerge here in Yorkshire too.”