Business confidence in the North West fell by six points during March to 43%, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Companies in the North West reported higher confidence in their own business prospects month-on-month, up onepoint to 55%.

However, their optimism in the economy fell 12 points to 31%, giving a headline confidence reading of 43% (vs. 49% in February).

Looking ahead to the next six months, North Westbusinesses identified their top target areas for growth asentering new markets, for example by diversifying into adjacent markets or exporting to new ones (37%), evolving their offering, including by introducing new products or services (32%) and introducing new technology, such as automation or AI (32%).

The Business Barometer, which surveys 1,200 businesses monthly, provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide.

Overall UK business confidence registered 42% in March, the same as in February, as firms’ confidence in their own trading prospects (49%) held steady, and confidence in the economy strengthened by one point (35%).  

Yorkshire and the Humber was the most confident UK nation or region in March , followed by the North East and London 

Services confidence fell 5 points to 40%, the first decline since December. That drop, however, was offset by rises in confidence in the manufacturing, retail and construction sectors.

The gains in manufacturing (up 1 point to 41%) and construction (up 2 points to 40%) were relatively modest and confidence remained below levels seen at the start of 2024. Firms in the retail sector reported improved confidence (up 5 points to 45%), which was the strongest result for over two years.


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