Agents' summary of business conditions - February 2016 Update

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 10 February 2016

This Update covers intelligence gathered from business contacts between late December 2015 and late January 2016. A fuller report for 2016 Q1 will be published on 23 March. This report generally makes comparisons with activity and prices over the past three months on a year earlier.

  • Growth had eased a little in recent months, although remained solid overall. While services growth had remained relatively buoyant, manufacturing was contracting, reflecting subdued world growth, the earlier appreciation of sterling, and weak demand from extraction industries in particular.
  • Consumer spending growth had been resilient. Some retail contacts suggested that purchases had been brought forward from December into November, because of Black Friday, or held back until the January sales. Retail contacts expected positive annual growth in sales during the first quarter.
  • Employment intentions and recruitment difficulties had eased, although the latter remained above normal levels. In a survey, contacts expected a slight pickup in pay settlements in 2016, largely reflecting the introduction of the National Living Wage.

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