Domestic markets have returned to growth following several quarters of negative indicators. For manufacturing firms, domestic sales have improved (up 25 points on quarter one) and future order books also look healthier (up 22 points). Service sector businesses have also seen domestic sales return to pre-recession levels whilst future order books look more positive, returning to growth for the first time since the first quarter of 2008.
Employment indicators are also positive, especially for the service sector; with job growth double the predicted levels. A third of service sector firms attempted to recruit in quarter two, up 8 points on the previous quarter and future job growth into quarter three is expected to increase further.
Over a third of manufacturing respondents also attempted to recruit in quarter two which resulted in firms increasing their workforce levels noticeably compared to last quarter. This was slightly short of predicted levels, however further tentative job growth is predicted into the third quarter of 2012.
Local results do however reflect the growing concerns across the UK that exporters are facing major challenges overcoming the continued problems in the Eurozone and weaknesses in the global economy, with export indicators plummeting.
The survey results show that export markets have dropped considerably for manufacturing firms, but it is worth noting that the number of respondents in this category was very small and this result might not reflect the experience of all firms. For service sector firms who export, there was some improvement in export sales, but forward order books have contracted.
Tracy Mawson, Director of Business Services at the Chamber, commented: “Over the past quarter, a number of business surveys, including ours, have shown that businesses are more optimistic than many of the Government economic indicators suggest. Many of our Members tell us they don’t identify with such pessimistic statistics and are cautiously optimistic.
“Whilst our latest economic results are positive, they underline the need for bold action to ensure growth. Local businesses are busting a gut in an uncertain environment and they will need to continue to do so. However, if we want companies to accept uncertainty as the new norm, then they must be met with bold government action to enable them to grow in the long term. Without government working together with business, the economy will continue to bump along for longer than we’d all like.
“Businesses need a government that will facilitate growth and address market failures. If the government wants businesses to invest and grow at a time of global uncertainty, it needs to generate stability and a better business environment at home in order to galvanise business confidence.
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Quarterly Economic Survey brings together results obtained from surveys carried out by over 50 individual Chambers of Commerce and their associations across the UK. St Helens Chamber collates its Members’ responses to the national survey in order to prepare a local St Helens breakdown. For the second quarter of 2012, 163 St Helens Chamber Members (employing over 2,800 people) responded to the survey.
A copy of the executive summary is available at: http://www.sthelenschamber.com/
For further information please contact Carly Roper at St Helens Chamber on 01744 742034 or email carly.roper@