The latest Quarterly Business Report from the West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce indicates little improvement in quarter four of 2020 as many economic indicators remain far below pre-pandemic levels.
The report, published in partnership with Cheshire West & Chester Council, indicates that the re-introduction of tighter coronavirus restrictions in October and November weighed heavily on the key drivers of growth and a quick return to pre-Coronavirus conditions seems a long way off.
The survey fieldwork took place in November during the second lockdowns in England and amid tougher restrictions in Wales. Continued uncertainty around further lockdowns and restrictions, as well as the many unanswered questions on Brexit, have caused businesses considerable distress, with some saying they are worried about the long-term viability of their business.
The findings come as the Chamber of Commerce calls for UK and Welsh government to ensure support for businesses is commensurate with the restrictions in place.
- Sales and orders remain relatively flat with all readings still in negative territory (meaning more businesses reported a decrease in sales and orders than an increase).
- Firms’ Investment intentions remained in negative territory: notably capital investment eased back.
- Employment expectations in the next three months eased slightly, and remained positive.
- Confidence rose at a slower pace than in Q3, contrasting with the wider North West where it fell back into negative territory.
Debbie Bryce, Chief Executive Officer at the West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce, commented on the report:
“This report demonstrates that businesses across the UK face a difficult and uncertain year ahead in 2021. Another major lockdown across all four nations of the UK will compound the devastating situation for many.
“The re-introduction of tighter coronavirus restrictions weighed heavily on the key drivers of growth and a quick return to pre-Coronavirus conditions seems a long way off.
“UK and Welsh Government should be pulling out all the stops to ensure support for businesses is commensurate with the restrictions in place. Both the pandemic and government restrictions continue to hit firms hard, and many are grappling with a difficult period of adjustment to new trading conditions following the end of the Brexit transition period.
“As we look to the future, our findings demonstrate that big investment incentives are also needed. Prosperity and success depend on businesses, both domestic and international, having the confidence to invest here in the UK for the long term.”
The Chamber Quarterly Business Report for quarter 4 of 2020 is based on a survey that received 89 responses from businesses in West Cheshire & North Wales representing over 7400 employees. The fieldwork for this survey took place between 2nd and 23rd November.
To view the full report, and to express your interest in taking part next quarter, please visit: https://wcnwchamber.org.uk/voice-of-business/quarterly-business-report/.