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Economic Outlook Remains Weak According to Chamber Report

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The latest Quarterly Business Report from the West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce indicates that, although businesses have recovered somewhat from the historic lows seen in quarter 2 of the year, many economic indicators remain far below pre-lockdown levels.

The report, published in partnership with Cheshire West & Chester Council, reveals the majority of businesses in the region are still feeling the dramatic impact of the restrictions brought into place as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.

The findings come as the Chamber of Commerce calls for a clear roadmap for businesses of existing restrictions and those that may be introduced in the future.

Key Findings

  • Domestic and overseas sales and orders recover (overseas to a lesser extent) but remain in negative territory (meaning more businesses reported a decrease in sales and orders than an increase). The weaker recovery in export indicators is likely to reflect weak global demand.
  • Firms’ investment intentions have begun to recover but remain in negative territory. Many firms are focusing on preserving cash buffers while uncertainty remains about the timing of the recovery in demand.
  • Employment expectations in the region bounced back after the record lows seen in the previous quarter. The number of businesses in West Cheshire & North Wales that tried to recruit over the last three months also recovered, returning close to pre-lockdown levels.
  • Confidence has recovered from record lows in Q2’20. Now broadly in line with quarter 3 of 2019, though remain some way below at the start of 2020.

Debbie Bryce, Chief Executive Officer at the West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce, commented on the report:

“Our latest Quarterly Business Report reveals that business conditions remain fragile in the face of uncertainty, with the prospect of a difficult Winter to come.

“Since the survey closed on 14th September, there has been a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases in the North West and consequently in local lockdown restrictions across our region. Businesses, their employees and customers need to see a clear road map for the existing restrictions and those that may be introduced in the future. This must include transparent trigger points, and clarity about the support available to protect jobs and livelihoods.

“Ministers should also consider ways of continuing to provide financial assistance and to extend coverage to more firms that are hard-hit by local lockdowns.”

The Chamber Quarterly Business Report for quarter 3 of 2020 is based on a survey that received 83 responses from businesses in West Cheshire & North Wales representing over 7400 employees. The fieldwork for this survey took place between 24th August and 14th September.

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/.