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.