Business confidence in the South West reaches highest levels seen yet during 2023

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Following an extended period of time in which the outlook did not seem greatly positive for very many businesses in the UK, our experts at TS Partners were cheered to read that according to one new business barometer reading, business confidence has actually been firmly on the up in August.

And those firms making use of accountancy services in Newton Abbot or nearby might have particular reason to feel heartened. That’s because the just-released Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank has shown that business confidence in our part of England climbed 12 points during the eighth month of the year, bringing it to 46%.

That reading isn’t merely the highest business confidence reading that the South West has seen at any point this year; it is also the highest recorded since February 2022, just prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Indeed, there was also great news for business confidence in the UK as a whole during August, as it rose 10 points to 41%, which is an 18-month high. Confidence went up across 10 of the 12 UK regions and nations over the course of the month, with London, the South East, and the South West leading the pack in terms of both monthly increases and overall business confidence.

An impressive recovery in business confidence after a troubling past year and a half

The elevated conflict in Ukraine began last year at a time when many businesses – in the South West, as well as other parts of the UK – were still scrambling to recover from the COVID-19 crisis. And even now, firms are continuing to battle high interest rates, inflation, and shortages of skilled workers, all of which make these latest Lloyds Bank business confidence readings all the more encouraging.

Indeed, as recently as July, the reading for overall UK business confidence had been a mere 31%, although even that score had been above the Barometer’s long-term average of 28%.

Looking specifically at the situation for South West England firms in August, the data showed that such companies reported greater confidence in their own business prospects compared to the previous month, with a two-point rise bringing this reading to 49%.

These firms’ optimism in the economy was 43%, according to the August reading, which represented a whopping 23-point improvement on the last month.

The 49% and 43% readings combined gave a headline business confidence reading of 46% for South West England in August, according to the system that Lloyds Bank uses for its Barometer.

Businesses across the region were also quizzed on their top target areas for growth over the coming six months. 31% of them cited the introduction of new technology, while 30% indicated that they would be looking to diversify into new markets, and 29% said they would invest in their teams.

Meanwhile, a net balance of 35% of South West businesses anticipated that they would lower their staff levels over the coming year, which was three points lower than the equivalent reading the previous month.

“It’s great to see confidence in the region rebounding”

Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking’s regional director for the South West, Amanda Dorel, commented that it was “great to see confidence in the region rebounding to reach the highest levels we’ve seen in 18 months. Businesses are making hay while the sun is shining too, with many taking advantage of buoyed consumer spirits and looking at opportunities to grow, be it by investing in their teams or diversifying into new areas.”

Another excellent investment that you could be making in your South West England business right now, is ensuring you’re benefitting from the right accountancy services in Newton Abbot, which will help put foundations in place for sustainable growth in 2023 and beyond.

To learn more about what our own services in this regard entail, please don’t hesitate to enquire to your nearest TS Partners office.