Business confidence in Wales rose more than any other nation or region in the UK during November, rising 14 points to 37%, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.
Companies in Wales reported higher confidence in their own business prospects month-on-month, up 17 points at 44%. When taken alongside their optimism in the economy, up nine points to 30%, this gives a headline confidence reading of 37%.
The Business Barometer, which questions 1,200 businesses monthly, provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide.
A new balance of 37% of businesses in the region expect to increase staff levels over the next year, up 21 points on last month.
Overall, UK business confidence was buoyant in November at 40%, down just three points on October’s reading of 43%. Both firms’ confidence in their own trading prospects and optimism in the economy remained comfortably in positive territory, each dipping just three points month-on-month to 39% and 41% respectively.
All UK nations and regions had positive confidence readings in November, with two other regions – the East of England and South East – reporting an increase on October’s data. Firms in London (down two points to 63%) remained the most confidence for third month in a row, followed by the North East (down 16 points to 45%), the West Midlands (down eight points to 42%) and East Midlands (down 13 points to 42%). A net balance of 30% of firms across the UK reported plans to create new jobs in the next twelve months, with hiring intentions strongest in London (41%), Wales (37%) and the South West (37%).
Amanda Dorel, regional director for Wales at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said:
“It’s fantastic to see business confidence in Wales return so emphatically this month. It's clear firms are looking to the future with more optimism and have set their sights on growth after a turbulent period.
“It’s great to see too that so many firms are planning to create new jobs in the next year, which will be a massive boost to the Welsh economy as we continue to build back from the impacts of the pandemic. We will be by the side of businesses across the country to help them as they do so.”
At a sector level, confidence slipped in manufacturing (42%), to its lowest since August, linked to the persistence of supply-chain disruptions, while it fell to a seven-month low of 28% in construction.
In contrast, the retail sector (45%) bucked the trend with a pickup in confidence, reflecting hopes for higher spending ahead as the festive period approaches. Services confidence (41%) fell slightly, with strong growth for financial & business services and communications offset by more downbeat responses from education, health and public administration.
Hann-Ju Ho, Senior Economist Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said:
“Business confidence remains robust above the long-term average, but it dipped this month as economic optimism and trading prospects were affected by the persistence of rising costs and supply chain issues.
“Pay expectations remain elevated with a quarter of businesses anticipating rises of 3% or more in the next 12 months which will add to business costs, but it bodes well for staff facing into economic challenges.”