Cumbrian businesses upbeat despite sluggish economy

Business confidence in Cumbria is on the up despite sluggish economic growth, new figures show.

The latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) from the British Chambers of Commerce reports a rise in the number of firms that expect sales and profits to increase.

Cumbria Chamber of Commerce gathers intelligence from local businesses to feed in to the QES.

Chief Executive Rob Johnston said: “The data we’re getting from businesses here is in line with the national trend.

“Many remain positive despite immediate difficulties. Domestic and export sales have weakened and businesses remain under pressure from rising costs, especially wage increases.”

The QES is based on responses from 6,800 businesses making it the largest survey of its kind in the UK.

Findings are expressed as balance figures – the percentage of firms that report an increase minus the percentage that report a decrease. A positive figure indicates expansion and a negative figure contraction.

The three months to June saw a rise in confidence with the balance of businesses expecting sales to increase jumping from +26 to +38 for manufacturers and +26 to +35 for services.

Similarly, the balance anticipating higher profits climbed from +13 to +24 for manufacturers and from +19 to +26 for services.

Rob added: “We shouldn’t get carried away with these figures.

Despite the optimism, businesses are reluctant to spend – investment in new equipment and staff training remain at historically low levels. The economy is fragile.

“Brexit uncertainty subsided after the March 29th deadline came and went but we expect it to loom large again in the autumn, especially if we appear to be heading for a no-deal departure.

“The next Prime Minister must take steps to inject momentum into the UK economy. Businesses want to see plans to tackle barriers to growth, avoid a disorderly Brexit and restore the UK’s global reputation as a place to invest and trade.”

Would you like to take part in the Quarterly Economic Survey? To find out more, email


© Cumbria Chamber of Commerce