Growth Pushes Small Business Confidence to Highest in 22 Years

Small business’ profits, exports, and employment predicted to grow as survey reveals increases across all sectors

Lloyd’s ‘Business in Britain’ survey shows that business confidence is at its highest in 22 years, with companies witnessing a rise in sales, orders and exports in the first half of the year.

The report revealed that overall sales and new orders have increased by 8% in small and mid-sized businesses, with sales rising to 41% and orders to 42%; and that over half (52%) of the survey’s respondents reported an increase in new business. The percentage of exports also increased from 33% to 38%, with overseas sales within Europe rising 5% to 21%.

Businesses anticipate that the numbers will continue to grow; expecting stronger profits, sales, exports and orders for the second half of 2014. As a result of this upward momentum more companies are planning to increase capital spending (22%) and employ more (22%) in the latter half of the year. However a skills shortage was highlighted for the second time recently, with the report indicating a rise of 4% in companies unable to employ talent with the right skillset.

The research, which was conducted with 15,000 businesses, showed that confidence levels increased everywhere but were highest in the South West (58%). The weakest levels were in the North West of England (45%)and Wales (48%), and surprisingly London businesses’ confidence level was slightly below the UK average at 51%.

Tim Hinton, managing director of Lloyds’ small and mid-sized business banking, indicated that the results are consistent with the growth momentum and suggestive that it will continue:

“The survey indicates that business optimism about sales, incoming orders, exports and profits has continued to rise over the last six months with some indicators climbing record highs. These gains, which have been broad based, chime with a broader pickup in economic activity.

“These recent improvements also help explain an accompanying rise in confidence about the outlook for the second half of 2014.”

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