QES Q4 2020: Third lockdown set to hit progress made in Quarter 4
JUST as the Humber economy was getting back onto its feet, the Government announced another national lockdown this week, which will put many businesses under renewed pressure, not just to make ends meet, but in some cases, simply to survive the next few months.
However, with the vaccine programme gathering pace, and a new package of Government support measures announced by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, there was at least some light at the end of what has seemed like a very long tunnel.
Chamber Chief Executive Dr Ian Kelly says: “It is most unfortunate that the UK has had to go back into lockdown just as our local economy appears to have been rebooting for 2021.
“This is undoubtedly going to be a difficult few months for businesses of all shapes and sizes, and especially those grappling with the changes brought about by Brexit.
“The Chamber’s International Trade Director, Pauline Wade and her team, are offering support for them and they can be contacted by emailing email@example.com
“We are pleased to see the Chancellor has been quick to provide support for businesses which will be grateful for it and will rely on it to keep going.
“With the mass vaccination programme now underway, we can only hope that this will be the last lockdown we will have to endure before we can all get back to some kind of normality and doing what we’re good at — building our businesses and growing the Humber’s economy!”
Research by the Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce in Quarter 4, the survey being conducted between November 2nd and 23rd, revealed the domestic market was making a recovery, with Home Sales increasing with the balance figure rising by 23 points.
Home Orders were also on the up, with the balance figure rising by 19 points to a balance figure of –6.
Export Sales dropped slightly as the Brexit negotiations edged towards a climax, with the balance figure falling a further 8 points to –55, while Export Orders also dropped slightly, with the balance figure falling three points to –50.
Employment prospects improved slightly in the last three months with more firms taking on staff, the balance figure rising by 11 points, while the outlook for the next three months looked more positive, with the balance figure climbing back into positive territory at 6 points, an increase of 14.
Recruitment in the last three months was also up with more firms looking to take on staff, a trend that was set to continue into the first quarter of 2021, but with the new lockdown, that may now change.
Full-time and temporary jobs were mostly available, while some part-time and temporary positions were also available.
Skilled manual and management positions were the most difficult roles to find suitable candidates for this quarter.
There was a sharp increase in the number of firms reporting an increase in cashflow in the last three months, with the balance figure rising by 50 points to 19.
Investment plans were also being looked at again, with 14% more firms considering investing in new equipment.
Training investment was also up, with a 23 point rise in those companies looking to train their staff.
In a sign of optimism, turnover and profit expectations both showed expected increases in the next 12 months, although more firms expected to see their prices increase, with the balance figure rising by 24 points to 23.
Overheads and finance were the biggest price pressures this quarter , while competition and tax were the biggest external concerns.