Agents' Summary of Business Conditions - December 2011

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 21 December 2011
  • Nominal consumer spending continued to grow slowly, but volumes were thought to be lower than a year earlier.
  • Estate agents reported a further softening in the housing market.
  • Investment intentions continued to weaken, because for many firms the general improvement in activity expected earlier in the year had not materialised.
  • There had been some slowing in the growth rate of goods exports over recent months, reflecting softening in the pace of growth of world demand.
  • Business services turnover growth had slowed quite sharply, reflecting weaker activity and renewed downward pressure on fees.
  • Manufacturing output for the domestic market continued to grow at a modest rate but the pace of expansion had slowed since the summer.
  • The level of activity in the construction sector had declined slightly compared with a year earlier.
  • Credit conditions remained tight for many small businesses, while larger firms generally had access to credit if required. At the same time, contacts tended to report little appetite to take on additional debt.
  • Private sector employment intentions had weakened further, and now suggested that employment would remain broadly flat over the coming year.
  • Capacity utilisation in manufacturing had eased back slightly over the past few months and was now broadly normal. There was still a fair amount of spare capacity in the service sector.
  • Labour costs continued to grow at a moderate pace. And contacts expected that situation to persist into next year.
  • Inflation in raw materials costs has slowed further, with a range of commodities prices beginning to level off or decline.
  • Import price inflation remained elevated, reflecting past increases in raw materials prices, as well as rising production costs in some emerging markets.
  • Manufacturing output price inflation was still fairly high, reflecting past increases in the cost of non-labour inputs. In business services there had been renewed downward pressure on professional fees.
  • Annual inflation for consumer goods and services remained elevated.


PDFAgents' summary of business conditions - December 2011

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