In the general economic climate, the various uncertainties around and how businesses are feeling at the moment we thought you might be interested in the attached Barclays Business Sentiment Survey.
It is the result of research Barclays commissioned in November where the Bank asked over 1,000 businesses for their views on the current economic environment, as well as the potential challenges and opportunities for businesses in 2017.
It shows how confidence among Britain’s businesses is holding up well, despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, with many seeing the potential opportunities this change brings.
2016 was certainly an eventful year, not least for British businesses, it was a year in which a lot of uncertainty has been unsettling for many. However,
since the EU referendum result, many people are positive about their own business’ prospects, a sentiment that has been borne out in the results of our survey.
With major change, uncertainty often follows, but where there is change there is also opportunity for business. We can see that two thirds of businesses will be keeping their trading levels with overseas territories at the same level – and this sensible ‘wait and see approach’ came across throughout the survey results.
In many ways though, this is the best time to seize the opportunities of overseas trade. While the pound remains weaker against currencies like the euro and US dollar, UK exports are more affordable than they would have been this time last year, so it’s fantastic to see that 6% of businesses plan to export for the first time in 2017.
However, the market expects the pound to strengthen against the euro in particular in the wake of continued political and economic upheaval within the Eurozone, so this is an opportunity that could be short-lived.
It is also encouraging to see that the majority of businesses plan to continue their capital expenditure and employment plans, and an incredible prediction of average business growth of 4% for this year shows that the business community is resilient and quietly confident.
At Barclays, we recognise that having a degree of certainty in future planning is essential in order to make these investments.That’s why in 2016 we lent over £5.4bn to smaller businesses in the UK, and we plan to make at least this much available again in 2017 to support businesses.
All eyes will be on Westminster and Brussels as negotiations for Britain’s departure from the EU get underway, but our customers should know that even if their outlook is looking less clear, their bank is on their side and will support them to seize the opportunities and face the challenges ahead.