Business confidence in the North West rose 16 points during July to -15%, 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 at -20%. When taken alongside their views of the economy overall, this gives a headline confidence reading of minus15%.
The Business Barometer questions 1,200 businesses monthly and provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide.
The majority of firms continued to see demand negatively affected by coronavirus during July, with the picture holding steady month on month. 70% experienced a fall in demand for their products and services, down 5 points on the month before. Meanwhile, 7% experienced an increase in demand, down four points month on June.
When asked about job retention among firms with furloughed staff, only a third (32%) expect to retain more than 90% of their staff.
A third (33%) of North West firms surveyed said they weren’t currently using the Job Retention Scheme.
When asked about social distancing measures, more than half (58%) said they could, in theory, operate at full capacity while remaining COVID-secured, although a third (32%) said they couldn’t operate full within the rules.
Of the 64% of businesses reporting disruption to their supply chain during July, 42% expected the situation to improve within six months, while only 7% expected it would take more than 12 months to return to normal levels.
Martyn Kendrick, regional director for the North West at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “North West firms are edging closer towards having an optimistic outlook once again, as key sectors reopen post-lockdown and trading opportunities pick back up.
“However, there remains a long road ahead to recovery. Lingering supply chain disruption and weakened demand are just two of many key challenges facing companies. We remain by the side of North West firms as they plan for the future.”