January 10 2020 @ 10:29 by Richard Dawson
The North East Chamber of Commerce’s quarterly economic survey (QES) for the final three months of 2019 makes glum reading for the business community.
Representing the views of its 3000 members on trading conditions and forecasts for the future, the Chamber QES saw a sharp decline in business performance and confidence as the last decade drew to a close.
Among the issues highlighted were that export sales have fallen further to lows not seen since mid-2009. Domestic sales growth has also declined dramatically from this time last year.
The QES also identified major cashflow issues for North East firms, which was particularly concerning because this is often an indicator of recession.
Worries around Brexit continued to be the most widely mentioned barrier to business success. Not surprising giving the volume of North East companies for whom exports are a vital source of revenue.
While some scores in the QES still showed signs of improvement, the general story is one of business and economic slowdown, perhaps echoing the national picture where key indicators are pointing towards a period of continued sluggish GDP growth.
Responding to the fourth quarter QES results, Lesley Moody, Chamber president said: “The results for the end of last year paint a worrying picture for the direction of the regional economy; continuing a trend we saw in the third quarter.
“In particular, investment has slowed down dramatically, while export sales continue to disappoint.
“This survey was conducted during the recent election campaign and it is clear to see that political and economic uncertainty is causing real difficulties for business.
“Following the election, we hope that stability will ensue, and that confidence will return.
“However, Government should see these results as a stark indicator of the need to secure a positive Brexit outcome that supports our international traders and to turn warm words on regional investment into swift actions.”