Vaccine rollout gives confidence to companies in the East of England

Vaccine rollout gives confidence to companies in the East of England

Lloyds Bank’s Business Barometer for January 2021 shows:

  1. Overall confidence of firms in the East of England fell 11 points in the past month to -12%
  2. 48% of firms are confident the Covid-19 vaccination roll-out will help trading prospects in 2021
  3. Optimism falls in seven of 11 UK regions and nations as firms deal with latest lockdown restrictions

Business confidence in the East of England fell 11 points during January to -12% according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Companies in the East of England reported lower confidence in their own business prospects month-on-month, down 22 points to -10%hen taken alongside their views of the economy, down one point on December to -14%, this gives a headline confidence reading of -12%.

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

Almost two thirds (61%) of firms said current Covid-19 restrictions had caused a fall in turnover but they expected the effects of the vaccine programme to boost trading prospects for 2021, with 48% saying the rollout had made them feel more confident about the year ahead. However, only 14% expect trading levels to return to pre-pandemic levels in the next twelve months.

When it comes to jobs, a net balance of 10% of businesses in the region expect to reduce staff levels over the next year, up 10 points on last month.

Nationally, overall business confidence dipped in January as the third lockdown came into force, falling by three points to -7%. Firms’ economic optimism dropped dramatically month-on-month, decreasing by 34 points to -10%.

Almost all UK nations and regions saw a month-on-month dip in confidence during January, with the biggest falls reported in Scotland (-32% vs -9% in December), Wales (-20% vs -1% in December) and the South West (-8% vs 5% in December). However, firms reported a month-on-month increase in confidence in London (up five percentage points to 3%), the South East (up seven percentage points to -4%) and North West (up eight percentage points to -5%). Yorkshire business confidence remained steady month-on-month at -4%.

Dave Atkinson, regional director for East of England at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Even prior to the latest national lockdown, strict restrictions had been in force in large swathes of our region affecting business confidence. However, with a vaccine now being deployed, businesses appear hopeful for their prospects in the year ahead.

“No matter what the coming months may bring, we’ll remain by the side of local firms, providing tailored guidance and support as they look ahead to recovery.”

In the industry sectors confidence remained above pre-vaccine levels. While some sectors reported declines, manufacturing slipped by nine points to 9%, services fell by four points to -9% and retail by five points to 6%. Confidence levels in the construction sector improved for a second month, rising four points to -1%.

Hann-Ju Ho, Senior Economist, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “It has been a challenging start to the New Year for UK businesses adapting to a third national lockdown alongside the new EU trade arrangement taking effect. Nevertheless, while confidence remains below average, it is encouraging that business sentiment is still the second highest since the low of May 2020. Overall, the vaccine rollout programme has lifted confidence and that will hopefully buoy business optimism in the coming months.”

For more information visit the Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking website 

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