South West business confidence at highest level since before March 2020 ‘lockdown’

Tuesday 30th March 2021

The latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Commercial Banking reports a rise of 14 points during March 2021 – the highest level for a whole year. The manufacturing and retail sectors recorded the highest confidence level at 25%, while services and construction rose to 11% and 12% respectively. For more information on this trend please read the bulletin below which was issued by Insider Media Ltd today.

Roger Mundy, Managing Director, Beardsley Theobalds, 30th March 2021



Business confidence at one-year high

Business confidence in the South West rose 14 points during March to 8 per cent, the highest reading since March 2020, according to a new report.

The latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, released  a week after the one-year anniversary of the first Covid-19 lockdown, found companies in the region reported higher confidence in their own business prospects month-on-month, up ten points at -1 per cent. 

When taken alongside their optimism in the economy, up 20 points to 17 per cent, this gave a headline confidence reading of 8 per cent.

When it comes to jobs, at net balance of 8 per cent of businesses in the region expect to reduce staff levels in the coming year, although this is down five points on last month.

Overall UK business confidence rose for a second consecutive month in March. Firms' confidence increased by 13 points to 15 per cent, the highest reading since February 2020, before coronavirus was confirmed as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation. 

UK firms' economic optimism also increased by 15 points to 17 per cent, while confidence in their own business prospects jumped 10 points to 12 per cent.

Every UK region and nation reported an increase in overall confidence during March, with most reporting a double-digit rise month-on-month.

David Beaumont, regional director for the South West at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: "The fact that business confidence in the South West has returned to pre-pandemic levels is extremely reassuring.  

"The South West's world-renowned tourism and hospitality sectors have weathered a particularly difficult year, so they will have been buoyed by the element of certainty provided by the roadmap out of lockdown.

"With the prospect of a busy staycation summer ahead, we remain by the side of businesses in the South West as they continue to recover from the effects of the pandemic." In the sectors, manufacturing and retail recorded the highest confidence levels, both at 25 per cent, while services and construction rose to 11 per cent and 12 per cent respectively.