08 Oct 2018
Advance export orders fell to -30% for manufacturers during quarter 3, a significant decrease on the previous quarter.
It was a better third quarter domestically for manufacturers, with the number reporting to be at full capacity increasing to one third of manufacturing respondents. However advance orders for domestic sales have also moved into negative territory.
Responding to negative advance orders both domestically and abroad, -3% of manufacturers intend to reduce their staffing levels over the next quarter.
Services firms continue to report growth overall and are also positive about advance orders. Employment expectations in the service sector are holding up fairly well, with 45% of service firms attempting to recruit in Q3, an increase over Q2’s 34%.
Despite the projected fall in orders manufacturers are still planning to invest in plant and machinery, and training. Confidence over increasing turnover is +15%, a slight increase from last quarter, while confidence about profitability is also in positive territory. Service sector firms are at the same confidence levels as in Q2, with high positive figures.
Overall more than half of survey respondents intend to grow their business over the next two years.
Tracy Mawson, Deputy Chief Executive at St Helens Chamber, commented: “It is most concerning that sales and orders both at home and abroad are falling. Weaker sterling is no longer proving beneficial to exporters and consumer spending is failing to boost the domestic market.
“The increasing cost of imported raw materials is putting pressure on firms and forcing them to increase prices.
“The upcoming Budget must deliver radical, decisive action to boost growth and productivity. There has never been a more important time for the government to bolster business investment, competitiveness and productivity.
“We have a vibrant and innovative business community in St Helens that wants to invest and grow, but we are stuck in limbo while Brexit negotiations rumble on without conclusion.”