Agents' Summary of Business Conditions - March 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 16 March 2010
  • Consumer spending had been volatile in recent months, in part reflecting the impact of the inclement weather. But the Agents’ sense was that the underlying trend in retail sales growth appeared to ease back slightly at the start of 2010.
  • The gradual recovery in the housing market appeared to have slowed.
  • Investment intentions picked up a little, but remained subdued. Spending plans continued to be mostly targeted at improving efficiency rather than increasing capacity.
  • There was a further, albeit slight, improvement in export growth. A majority of contacts reported that they have used the fall in sterling to boost margins, rather than increase volumes.
  • Inventories were reported to be close to desired levels, with businesses keen to keep stocks low relative to sales.
  • Business services activity continued to pick up gradually, with signs of improving demand for professional services. Manufacturing output also continued to recover.
  • Prospects in the construction sector remained bleak, reflecting the dwindling pipeline of commercial projects and expected cuts in public spending.
  • The availability of bank credit continued to improve marginally, although price and non-price terms on lending remained little changed.
  • Employment intentions were little changed on the month. Few businesses were planning either to cut or increase headcount significantly.
  • Pay settlements remained subdued. Per capita labour costs were expected to rise slightly during 2010.
  • Materials costs moved a touch higher, with pressure from metal, commodity and imported goods prices.
  • Annual consumer price inflation picked up further, mainly reflecting the rise in VAT and increases in fuel prices. 

 

PDFAgents' summary of business conditions - March 2010

Other Agents' summary of business conditions

This page was last updated 14 January 2019
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