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East of England business confidence remains among lowest in UK

30 Jun East of England business confidence remains among lowest in UK

Business confidence in the East of England remained at -38% during June, the lowest of any English region, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Companies in the East reported confidence in their business prospects had fallen month-on-month to -45%. When taken alongside their views on the economy overall, this gives a headline confidence reading of -38%.

The Business Barometer questions 1,200 businesses monthly and provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide.

When asked about the impact of coronavirus on their business, almost a third (32%) of firms in the East of England said they expect to be operating at more than 50% of capacity by the end of June, although 12% didn’t expect to be operating at all. A fifth (20%) of the region’s firms said it would take three months until they were back to operating at pre-COVID-19 levels, though 16% expected it to take more than 12 months.

The majority of firms continued to see demand fall during June, but with the picture improving marginally month-on-month. Almost three quarters (71%) experienced a fall in demand for their products and services, compared to 72% in May. Meanwhile, 3% experienced an increase in demand, down eight points on the month before.

Of the 63% of businesses reporting disruption to their supply chain during June, a fifth (20%) expected the situation to improve within three months, while 5% expected it would take more than 12 months to return to normal levels.

David Atkinson, regional director for the East of England at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Continuing disruption and uncertainty is clearly still weighing heavily on business leaders’ outlook in the East. There’ll be cause for greater optimism in the coming weeks as more non-essential shops open their doors for the first time in months – and with the anticipated re-opening of the hospitality industry in July.

“We will remain by the side of the region’s firms to help them move forward from this pandemic in as strong a position as possible.”