- Small firms’ confidence has increased, but their investment intentions have fallen – and retailers and manufacturers expect conditions to deteriorate
- Firms cite the domestic economy, consumer demand and access to finance as the main barriers to achieving growth.
- Small businesses expect to marginally increase their staffing levels over the coming three months
- Financial and business services firms remain the most optimistic about the business environment
- Eight regions have seen confidence increase year-on-year, with the north east recording the largest annual increase in their confidence reading of +15, while businesses in the southern regions retain strong optimism levels
- Fuel (56%) and utilities (51%) remain the main driver of increased business costs in the quarter