How the Humber economy is shaping up in 2017
The results of the latest Quarterly Economic Survey have been revealed
By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 17 Jul 2017
Humber firms have experienced growth in domestic sales and seen increases in their home order books during the second quarter of the year.
According to research by the Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce, both areas have climbed further into positive territory, with results from the latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) showing sales rising by six points and orders by four points.
By contrast, there has been an ebb in export sales and orders – falls of nine points and five points respectively – against the strong increases that occurred during the first quarter.
Dr Ian Kelly, chief executive of the Hull and Humber Chamber, said: “It was good to see the domestic sales and orders sector recovering slightly this quarter, even though the exports sector has fallen back after showing a surge in the first part of the year.
“In the Humber, the export sector is still stronger than it was for most of last year, so despite dropping back a touch this quarter, things are still looking encouragingly strong.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, set against a Brexit backdrop, businesses’ biggest concerns last quarter were exchange rates (up ten points on Q1) and inflation (up a further seven points on the first quarter).
Fears over increased competition and tax were also a worry to business leaders in the Humber, while concerns over a hike in interest rates continued to recede.
Dr Kelly said: “Concerns over exchange rates, inflation and interest rates are to be expected at this time, but we hope businesses will continue to do what they do best, and it is encouraging to see many companies still planning to invest in new equipment and training in the coming months.”
The QES, which is the largest survey of its kind in the region, revealed a slight rise in concerns over pay settlements, but raw material and finance pressures had fallen away a little in this quarter.
The balance figure for turnover expectations, falling 27 points this time around, was still ahead of the final two quarters of last year.
Profit expectations also took a hit in Q2, with fewer firms believing they would see their profits increase in the next three months, but the modest three-point fall in the balance figure was still more positive than in the last six months of 2016.
More companies said they were planning to invest in plant and machinery in the next three months, with the balance figure rising by 14 points, but remaining in negative territory.
Plans to invest in training in the next three months was a mixed picture. A total of 9 per cent of firms said they would increase their investment, while 11 per cent of respondents said they would cut back on plans, but the balance figure saw only a slight reduction of two points.
Fewer firms said they were considering recruiting new staff in the next three months, with the balance figure dropping seven points, to 11.
In recruitment, skilled manual workers were proving to be the hardest to find this quarter, while clerical staff were also proving more difficult to source.
The management and unskilled sectors also saw an increase in firms expressing difficulty in filling vacancies with suitable candidates.
The number of firms which said they were working at full capacity was also down 9 per cent this quarter.
The QES is typically completed by more than 7,000 businesses across the UK, the national picture reflecting “subdued” economic activity during Q2.