The Doncaster Business Insight Survey (DBI), part of the British Chambers of Commerce’s Quarterly Economic Survey QES and the UK’s largest independent survey of business sentiment and a leading indicator of UK GDP growth, found that business conditions remained historically poor in the first quarter of 2021 as the third lockdown severely limited activity.
However, findings revealed that business confidence has been boosted in the first three months of 2021 amid the strong vaccine roll-out and the government’s roadmap providing some ability for companies to forward plan.
Jade Dyer, Business Director at Doncaster Chamber said, “The latest survey results indicate a difficult first quarter of the year for Doncaster’s economy, as a third lockdown and post-Brexit disruption impacted key indicators like domestic sales and cashflow. Without a substantial improvement in customer demand, businesses will not be able to raise revenues, cash reserves and operational capacity. Nonetheless, business confidence has improved considerably since December 2020.
“Although forecasting findings demonstrate that businesses are beginning to feel optimistic, there is much that needs to be done to ensure that hope is translated into reality. We are not ‘out of the woods’ yet and many businesses still face a fight for survival.
“The government must provide businesses with absolute clarity on its roadmap out of lockdown so that firms, especially those in the worst-affected sectors, can make plans for how they will operate in the upcoming months.”
The survey found that all the key indicators for immediate business conditions remained in negative territory and well below pre-pandemic levels in Q1 and that 52% of businesses expect turnover to grow over the next 12 months.
The renewed feelings of optimism was reflected in the national QES results.
On the findings, Co-Executive Director of the British Chamber of Commerce, Hannah Essex, said, “The damage wrought to trading conditions by repeated lockdowns and issues at the border will not be repaired by renewed confidence alone. The Government must recognise the compounded impact that the combination of the pandemic and Brexit related issues have had on firms up and down the country.”
“The hope for growth represented in our findings is contingent upon the Government continuing to hit its target dates for re-opening the economy, successfully rolling out the coronavirus vaccines and providing ongoing support to businesses who have suffered throughout the crisis. Particular emphasis must be placed on those sectors which face continued uncertainty about when they will be able to fully trade again.”
“Businesses are desperate to play their part in the recovery from the pandemic, and the Government must provide them with the security and certainty that they need to do just that. These first quarter findings show there is a glimmer of hope that the start of rebuilding and renewal for the UK is within reach, though there is no room for inaction or overconfidence.
“Now is not the time for complacency, to translate hope into reality there must be a coherent strategy for growth which empowers businesses to lead the economic recovery from Covid-19.”
Full Doncaster Business Insight Survey results can be found on the Doncaster Chamber website: https://www.doncaster-chamber.co.uk/dbi-results/