Agents' Summary of Business Conditions - March 2012

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 March 2012
  • Consumer demand continued to grow at only a gradual pace, although spending so far this year had been a little stronger than retailers had expected.
  • There had been further signs of some improvement in housing market conditions.
  • Investment intentions had risen a touch, but still pointed to only modest growth in capital spending over the coming year.
  • Goods exports continued to grow steadily, but there had been some slowing in the pace of expansion in recent months.
  • The rate of growth in business services turnover remained sluggish, with considerable variation across sectors.
  • Manufacturing output continued to grow at a modest pace.
  • The level of activity in the construction sector was slightly lower than a year earlier, in part due to a slowing in work for the public sector.
  • There had been an increase in the number of contacts reporting that credit conditions had tightened, although for many firms the demand for loans remained fairly weak.
  • Employment intentions pointed to broadly stable employment in the private sector over the next six months.
  • Capacity utilisation in manufacturing was a little below normal, due to a slowing in demand growth in recent months and ongoing improvements in labour productivity. There remained rather more slack in services.
  • The rate of growth of total labour costs had been fairly modest, with settlements in manufacturing typically higher than in services. Materials cost inflation continued to slow steadily. That was beginning to feed through to the prices of
    imports of finished goods, but had been offset, in part, by rising production costs in emerging markets.
  • Inflation in manufacturing output prices remained elevated, but had slowed a touch, while there was renewed downward pressure on fees for many business services.
  • Annual retail goods inflation continued to slow, and consumer services inflation had also fallen back slightly.

PDFAgents' summary of business conditions - March 2012

This page was last updated 31 January 2023