Quarterly Economic Survey - Q3 2017: Domestic market steady as materials costs rise
DOMESTIC Sales and Orders both held their ground in Quarter 3, according to the latest Economic Survey results.
Research by the Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce reveals that Homes Sales rose two points overall, while Home Orders showed a stronger increase, with the balance figure rising 11 points over that of Quarter 2 and 15 points up on Quarter 1 of 2017.
The balance figure for export sales rose by four points, with 13% more companies reporting an increase in trade, while on the export orders front, 14% of companies reported a consistent picture, with fewer declaring an increase in orders, but the balance figure dropped by 11 points on the second quarter.
In the last three months, six per cent of respondents reported an increase, with fewer firms losing staff, with the resulting balance figure showing a healthy increase of 15 points on the second quarter.
In the next three months, the majority of businesses (85%) say they are expecting their staffing levels to remain constant, however, the balance figure was four points down on the last quarter.
The first two quarters of the year have seen a steady drop in the number of firms recruiting staff, but in Quarter Three, 56% of firms were on the lookout for new staff, with 80% of businesses looking for full time employees with an equal mix of full and part-time positions.
The ease with which companies can recruit staff is still an issue, with management roles being the hardest to fill this time around, with 67% of firms reporting difficulties.
Good clerical staff are also in short supply this quarter, while skilled manual and unskilled posts were easier to fill.
The balance for Cashflow fell back slightly this quarter, but again there was a rise in the number of firms reporting a degree of consistency.
Plans to invest in Plant and Machinery in the next few months were also holding steady, with the balance figure improving slightly by two points, but at –4 remained in negative territory.
It was a similar picture with training plans, with fewer firms planning to increase their training plans with most keeping the status quo, however the balance figure dropped by seven points.
More firms were expecting their turnover to increase in the coming months, with the balance figure climbing 13 points to 36.
Profit expectations were also on the up, with the balance figure rising eight points to 21.
However, the balance figure for prices continued this year’s decline, dropping a further 11 points on the second quarter.
Rising raw material costs were the biggest concern for firms this quarter, along with exchange rates and increased competition, while concerns over interest rates, business rates and tax continued to fall away this time around.
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