Continued uncertainty leads to drop in business activity

Reaction to the Chamber’s Quarterly Economic Survey findings for Q3

In contrast to a strong second quarter, UK activity dropped off appreciably in the third quarter, the latest findings from the Chamber suggest. Advanced manufacturing – a

traditional area of strength in the East Midlands – saw a reduction in advanced orders on the previous quarter, while bookings were notably down. Similarly, overseas markets

struggled, with respondents to the survey suggesting a greater deal of volatility in activity levels on the previous quarter. Perhaps most alarming was the

State of the Economy Index which, after rallying in Q2 following a poor Q1 - attributed to Brexit uncertainty ahead of the original 29 March 2019 deadline for leaving the EU -, dropped to a low not seen since Q2 2013. However there appears to be a

contrast in the findings, with turnover and profitability expectations remaining relatively resilient – both dipping, but not to the same levels seen at the start of the year – suggesting a robustness in business’ outlook despite sustained, ongoing political and economic uncertainty. Chris Hobson, Director of Policy

at the Chamber, said: “The most notable result from the third quarter’s QES findings is the poor performance within the domestic market, with a quarter of businesses seeing a decrease in UK sales activity, traditionally a strong area for East Midlands businesses. Given these results, it’s perhaps surprising

44 business network November 2019

that sentiment remained relatively bullish. It’s impossible to say with certainty what’s behind this seeming contrast, however, in conversation, there is a definite feel that many businesses believe an end to the drama of the past few years is near.” However the Q3 results suggest

that, while Brexit Preparedness rightly remains a key concern for businesses, a return of focus to key domestic challenges is required by policy makers. Chris continued: “It is easy to

forget that there are other significant factors impacting the economy in the East Midlands: automation and its impact on our manufacturers; changing consumer trends; the continued growth of the low carbon agenda and what that means for all businesses in terms of their products and processes and a global slowdown in activity, and what that means for all of us. “One of the great shames of the

past few years is that the above factors – and more – have not received due attention from policy and decision makers. “The G overnment’s Industrial

Strategy has stalled and the lion’s share of funding is being directed towards short-term goals as opposed to supporting businesses and the economy to respond to the challenges and opportunities that these changes will bring and this is perhaps reflected in these latest figures.”

For the full set of results from the Chamber’s Q3 QES, visit

The latest report uses data taken from the Quarterly Economic Survey carried out by East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire) in the third quarter (Q3) of 2019. This regular survey asks businesses a series of questions on key economic indicators. The Q3 survey fieldwork ran from 26 August to 16 September 2019. The QES report is also benchmarked

against past reports to offer clear indications as to changes in business confidence and priorities. There were 234 responses to the survey, 34% operating in a broadly

manufacturing background and 66% from a broadly service background. Of the respondents, 34% had fewer than ten employees, 34% had 11-49 employees, 20% had 50-249 employees and 12% had more than 250 employees.

ABOUT THE QES QES is the biggest business survey of its kind in the East Midlands. The results provided by Chamber members are analysed by the Chamber in order to help shape crucial policy discussions locally, regionally and nationally. The results from the survey feed into the British Chambers of

Commerce QES, the largest and most representative independent business survey of its kind in the UK. The Chamber also presents the results to MPs, as well as senior

councillors and officials in various tiers of Government. The survey is also closely watched by policymakers such as the Treasury, the Bank of England and the International Monetary Fund. The information you provide is collated with other responses from the British Chamber Network to form one of the most influential business surveys in the UK – providing consistent data since 1989. Chamber members are actively encouraged to feed into the QES to

help shape the Chamber’s policy discussions – which are based on first-hand feedback from businesses in the region. Your views are important. The answers from this survey will help to shape the way in which we represent you.

To receive notifications of when QES goes live throughout the year, and to have your say, email

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