The March DMP survey was conducted between 4 and 18 March and received 2,674 responses.
In March, DMP respondents were asked for the first time about the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on their sales and levels of uncertainty. Nearly half of respondents (48%) expected the Russia-Ukraine war to negatively impact their year-ahead sales, with the average impact expected to be around -3%. 48% of firms viewed the conflict as a top-three source of uncertainty for their business, with 11% of firms citing it as their largest current source of uncertainty. The impact on expected sales and uncertainty was observed across all sectors.
Despite this, overall uncertainty rose only modestly in March, as other sources of uncertainty were reported to have become less material. The percentage of businesses that viewed the overall level of uncertainty facing their business as high or very high was 49% in March, up slightly from 47% in the previous month. Uncertainty about future sales growth also increased modestly, although there was a sharper rise in uncertainty about future inflation. Covid-related uncertainty fell in March, 30% of firms reporting it as one of their top three sources of uncertainty, down from 46% in February. The share of firms that reported Brexit in their top three sources of uncertainty was 22% in March, down from 30% in February.
Annual economy-wide output price inflation continued to increase in the DMP, reaching 5.9% on average in the three months to March, up by 0.6 percentage points on February. The single month data showed a large increase, of 1.9 percentage points, to 6.9%. Expected year-ahead annual output price inflation also rose to 5.0% in the three months to March 2023, up from 4.8% in February (the single month data was up by 1 percentage point in March, to 5.9%).
The percentage of non-labour inputs being disrupted was little changed, at 14%, in March. The proportion of firms suffering some form of disruption to their non-labour inputs also remained stable at, around two-thirds.
In March, businesses estimated that their sales in 2022 Q1 would be 4% lower than they otherwise would have been because of Covid-19, with investment 8% lower and employment 3% lower. In the latest survey, businesses’ near-term expectations for the impact of Covid on sales and employment were slightly improved relative to expectations reported in the February survey, whilst investment expectations worsened a little on the month.