Agents' summary of business conditions - January 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 20 January 2016

This Update covers intelligence gathered from business contacts between late November 2015 and late December 2015. 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. 

  • Activity had grown solidly on a year ago, and was expected to continue to do so over coming months. The notable exception to that picture was manufacturing, where output was slightly down on a year earlier and prospects for the sector were subdued.
  • Consumer spending growth had been resilient. Early discussions with contacts indicated that retail sales over the Christmas period had been stronger than a year earlier in volume terms, if little changed by value.
  • Growth in total labour costs per employee had eased a little, despite continuing recruitment difficulties. That had partly reflected the effects of low inflation, which had allowed some businesses to offer lower awards than a year earlier. 

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