This publication generally covers intelligence gathered from business contacts between late November 2016 and mid-January 2017. It generally makes comparisons with activity and prices over the past three months on a year earlier.
- Consumer spending growth had remained resilient, but was expected to ease during the year as prices rose. Investment intentions had edged higher and pointed to small increases in spending during 2017. Export volumes growth had risen due to the fall in sterling and stronger world growth.
- Hiring plans had edged up, but pointed to little change in staffing overall in the next six months. A survey indicated a modest rise in total labour cost growth in the year ahead (see box on page 2). That was partly due to difficulties in hiring and holding on to staff and costs from the forthcoming apprenticeship levy.
- Price pressures had continued to build through supply chains following sterling’s fall. So far, the main effect on consumer prices had been higher food and fuel prices. But a wider range of goods prices were expected to be affected over the coming year, causing inflation to rise further.