Business confidence plummeted across the North East in August, according to new data.
Confidence was down 14 points to 20% in the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.
The region’s firms reported lower confidence in their business prospects (27%) and lower economic optimism (12%), which together gave an overall confidence of 20% – down from 34% in July.
The national picture was only marginally better, with confidence at 23% (down six points).
But many companies in the North East are still looking to hire more staff over the next 12 months. A net balance of 24% of firms expect to grow their teams, up three points on the month previous.
Further, a net balance of 3% of companies reported feeling that Brexit was having a negative impact on their expectations for business. A net balance of 9% said in July that Brexit was having a positive impact.
Lloyds’ Business Barometer questions 1,200 businesses each month to provide early indications of UK economic trends.
Kelly Green, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking’s North East regional director, said: “While it’s disappointing to see North East firms’ confidence dip over the last month, this is a trend that’s reflected across the country.
“Ongoing economic and political uncertainty is making it difficult to plan ahead. However, the uptick in hiring intentions suggests many businesses are already taking steps to ensure that they’re prepared to capitalise on future opportunities.”
She continued: “As we approach the final quarter of the year, it’s essential that firms across the region continue to seek trusted advice and make targeted investments for growth. As they do, I look forward to seeing confidence blossom in the months to come.”