Agents' Summary of Business Conditions - February 2010

We regularly publish a summary of reports compiled by our twelve regional Agents following discussions with at least 700 businesses across the UK every reporting period.
Published on 15 February 2010
  • Over the Christmas and New Year period, retail sales were reported to be well up on the same period a year earlier. They had subsequently fallen back, with the adverse weather affecting sales across much of the United Kingdom.
  • Housing market activity had continued to recover, but there were more signs that the rate of growth had slowed.
  • While investment intentions remained muted, few firms planned a further round of sharp cuts following last year’s sizable reductions in spending.
  • Exports had continued to recover modestly.
  • Many contacts planned to maintain their inventories at low levels relative to sales.
  • Reports of growth or stabilisation in demand for professional and financial services had become more common. But demand for other business services remained subdued.
  • Reports of quarter-on-quarter growth in manufacturing output continued to outweigh those of shrinkage. Construction remained severely depressed.
  • The Agents’ sense of marginal improvement in credit conditions had strengthened in recent months.
  • The outlook for employment continued to improve slightly, with few contacts planning significant further reductions in headcount.
  • Few contacts anticipated encountering capacity constraints over the near term.
  • Inflation in per capita labour costs was expected to be positive but muted during 2010 (see box). Inflation in materials costs had ticked up and was expected to rise further.
  • Consumer goods price inflation had increased following the reversal of the temporary cut in VAT and the reduced scale of promotional activity relative to the same period a year earlier.


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This page was last updated 31 January 2023