North East Business Activity Was Returning Before Second Lockdown

North East Business Activity Was Returning Strongly Before Second Lockdown.
NatWest North East Business Activity Index shows the North East as the highest among the UK’s 12 regions in September – but came before a localised lockdown. Business activity in the North East continued to show a strong recovery in September, a new survey suggests, though the results were mostly taken before the latest coronavirus lockdown.

The NatWest North East Business Activity Index, which measures output from the region’s manufacturing and service sectors, recorded a score of 60.3 in September, the highest among the UK’s 12 regions and well above the 50 level which separates growth from contraction.

The rate was below August’s level of 66, however, and there were signs of a loss of momentum in services towards the end of the month. September saw a third straight monthly increase in new business received by firms in the North East, the survey found, and the rate of growth remained above the UK average.

A number of the surveyed businesses commented on the release of pent-up demand, NatWest said, and underlying data pointed to increases in new orders at both local manufacturers and services firms.

Richard Topliss, chair of NatWest North’s regional board, said: “The North East private sector saw another month of strong business activity growth in September, as demand continued to recover from the widespread lockdown during the spring.

“There was a loss of momentum in the rebound at the end of the third quarter, particularly in the service sector, though this wasn’t entirely surprising given August was a record month for growth, and the withdrawal of the government’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme.

“It’s encouraging to see work starting to build up across businesses, as this is helping to slow the rate of retrenchment and will hopefully mean more staff are retained during the transition to the Government’s new job support scheme.”

Despite positive news on orders, Brexit uncertainty was founded to be weighing on firms and job numbers continued to reduce. The rate of job losses eased to the slowest since March, however, and was the lowest among all UK regions.

Eyes will now be on this week’s regional and national unemployment figures as the latest sign of how the coronavirus pandemic has affected the regional economy.

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