SME Business Barometer

The SME Business Barometer: August 2011  has been released  this month (Oct 2011).

These are some of the key points from the Summary:

  • The state of the economy was felt to be main obstacle to success by 45 per cent of SME employers in August 2011.
  • Obtaining finance was the second most frequently mentioned main obstacle (in a five percentage point raise since February 2011, it was mentioned by 12 per cent of SME employers). The next most frequently mentioned obstacles were taxation, cashflow, competition and regulations.
  • In levels similar to February 2011 and December 2010, 26 per cent of SME employers in August 2011 were employing fewer staff than 12 months previously. Sixty per cent had the same number of staff as 12 months previously (compared with 58 per cent stating this in February 2011); and 14 per cent had more staff than 12 months previously (compared with 15 per cent stating this in February 2011). The trend over the previous year indicates a greater degree of stability in employment levels.
  • Expectations of staffing levels over the next 12 months have remained relatively static since September 2009. In August 2011, 25 per cent of SME employers believed that in a year’s time they would be employing more staff than currently. This compares with 61 per cent who believed employment levels would remain stable, and 14 per cent who believed there would be a decrease in employment levels.
  • In August 2011 30 per cent of SME employers saw an increase in turnover in the previous 12 months, compared to 34 per cent stating their turnover had decreased. For 36 per cent turnover was about the same as it was 12 months previously. This last figure represents the greatest proportion of employers stating their turnover levels are the same as 12 months ago since ASBS 07/08., and overall the trends suggest stabilisation of turnover levels.
  • Looking ahead, SME employers that participated in the August 2011 Barometer were more likely than in the February 2011 Barometer to have felt that their turnover in 12 month’s time would be the same (46 per cent, compared to 37 per cent in February 2011). Thirty-one per cent felt their turnover would be higher in 12 months time than currently and 21 per cent felt it would be lower.

Consumer confidence falls

Hard on the heels of a report that says small business confidence is crumbling (see my previous posting earlier this week) it looks like consumers feel the same way.

The Nationwide Building Society consumer confidence index results for September:

  • Confidence fell for fourth month in a row in September
  • The main index now stands just four points above its all time low seen in February 2011
  • The Spending Index fell by two points but remains some way above its all time lows, despite the challenging economic environment

Nationwide Consumer Confidence Index

Retail Sales – September 2011

A bit of positive news.

  • Headline: Value of retail sales in September 2011 showed an increase of 5.4 per cent compared with September 2010.
  • Headline: Sales volumes in September 2011 increased by 0.6 per cent compared to September 2010.
  • Non-store retailing and automotive fuel both saw sales volumes increase compared to September 2010 by 15.5 and 2.8 respectively.
  • Textile, clothing and footwear sales volumes fell 2.1 per cent compared to September 2010, the largest fall since April 2008.
  • Non-seasonally adjusted year-on-year sales volumes in large and small stores increase by 0.2 and 2.1 per cent respectively.

Retail Sales – September 2011

I wanna go to Chelsea

Life expectancy for men in Kensington and Chelsea is nearly six years more than for men in Brent (although the gap narrows a bit if I make it to 65).

Key points:

  • Life expectancy was highest in Kensington and Chelsea and lowest in Glasgow City in each period between 2004–06 and 2008–10
  • On average life expectancy at birth in local areas improved by 1.2 years for males and 1.0 year for females
  • At age 65 the average increase in local areas was 1.0 year for men and 0.9 years for women
  • The gap between the local areas with the highest and lowest life expectancies increased between 2004–06 and 2008–10
  • At birth the gap increased from 12.5 to 13.5 years for males and from 10.1 to 11.8 years for females

Life expectancy at birth and at age 65 by local areas in the United Kingdom, 2004–06 to 2008–10