According to the Federation of Small Businesses' latest quarterly confidence report, small businesses in the south west are in need of a boost as we head into the festive season for 2023.
Confidence among small businesses in the region fell in quarter three of 2023, with the general economic conditions, consumer demand and high utility costs being the three main concerns — but aspirations for the year ahead remained high for the 40 per cent of businesses looking to grow moderately or rapidly in 2024.
Despite the knock to confidence, small businesses in the south west have increased wages over the last year, with 67 per cent inceasing the average salary of their employees and 63 per cent increasing that average by two per cent or more.
While 15 per cent of small businesses had plans to contract their businesses in the next 12 months, 10 per cent said they were planning to take on staff in the next quarter.
The FSB's regional policy chair, Craig Carey-Clinch, said: 'Usually
when we release these reports they offer quite a mixed picture on growth,
investment, revenue and jobs but for this quarter most of the indicators are in
negative territory and the overall headline confidence figure continues to be
at a much lower level than we would want.
'Our report shows that small businesses are still clearly in an uncertain economic position and the fear is that as we are now heading for the crucial winter period, there is little evidence that the growing nervousness around the SME community in the south west is set to quickly lift.
'It is important, therefore, that the government and other key stakeholders do all they can to show their support for small businesses so we can try to get the economy working again and reverse these worrying trends for SMEs here in the south west.'
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