St Helens Businesses look to a new year

16 Jan 2017

Business

The final economic survey of 2016 suggests St Helens businesses expect to see continued growth as they embark on the New Year, despite some mixed results.

The local service sector recorded tentative improvements in the six of the 10 key economic indicators in the fourth quarter of 2016, however both sectors indicated a slowdown in domestic markets and job creation.

Looking forward, both sectors expect domestic orders books to improve, turnover to increase and more job creation. Overall the survey findings suggest growth will continue in 2017, albeit as a modest pace, as both manufacturing and service sectors feel pressure from rising costs, which are squeezing margins.

Tracy Mawson, Deputy Chief Executive at St Helens Chamber, commented: “In the absence of a clear road ahead, many companies have been adopting a ‘business as usual’ approach in the months since the referendum, which has kept conditions buoyant in 2016 and prevented a sharp slowdown in growth.

“While some firms see significant opportunities over the coming months, many others now see increasing uncertainty, which is weighing on their investment expectations and forward confidence. Lower sterling and rising inflation are now starting to affect business and consumers across the UK. While a lower pound is a boon for some exporting businesses, many others see the latest devaluation of sterling less positively, as the price of imports rises.

“Businesses see rising inflation as one of their biggest concerns for the coming months and years, and with 2017 expected to be an uncertain period for the UK economy, it is vital that more is done to support business growth. Addressing the high input costs faced by businesses in the UK, including energy costs and business rates should be a government priority at the next Budget.

“Given our findings, deeper incentives for both investment and exporting will be needed in the months and years ahead. As the Brexit negotiations commence, steps will need to be taken to help ambitious firms overcome the risks, real and perceived, borne out of political uncertainty.

“Members can be assured that St Helens Chamber will be working very closely with the British Chambers of Commerce to articulate your concerns at the highest level of Government.”

Click here to view the full report.