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Is business confidence returning?

  • by JW

“Luckily Sidmouth as a town doesn’t suffer as badly as some.”


NatWest has just produced its regular report on how well business activity is going across the different regions: NatWest UK Regional PMI – January 2023 | NatWest Group

It depends how this is interpreted:

Confidence among South West firms for the year ahead has reached its highest level for eight months according to a new Natwest report, despite output and new work continuing to decline at the start of the year. Paul Edwards, chair of the NatWest South West Regional Board, said it was “encouraging” to see business confidence improving. He added: “While this bodes well for future growth expectations, it will also be important to monitor whether there will be an easing of inflationary pressures in the months ahead, which would be much welcome news amid the ongoing cost of living crisis.” South West business confidence for year ahead hits eight month high – Business Live

Latest survey data indicated a contraction in activity across the South West private sector in December. The latest reading indicated the slowest rate of decrease in the current five-month sequence of contraction, amid a softer reduction in new orders. That said, the downturn in business activity registered across the South West was the third-fastest across the 12 UK regions. NatWest Business Activity Index warns of challenging 2023 | Falmouth Packet and Business activity continues to fall in the south west, survey finds | Hampshire Chronicle

If we turn to Sidmouth and Vincent Page’s regular piece in the Herald, he provides more local analysis:

Sidmouth High Street with bunting and flags

As the face of Sidmouth’ s traditional high street slowly changes into a different animal, re-inventing yourself as another new store may not necessarily be the answer! Luckily Sidmouth as a town doesn’t suffer as badly as some and for that we should all be grateful, but whichever way you look at it, things are changing, and whether you embrace the change or not, opportunities are presenting themselves, and if you have the business acumen to take advantage of those opportunities the current climate could prove to be to your benefit. It is interesting to see that whilst many empty shops in some towns around the country are being converted back into flats and houses to provide conventional living accommodation, all the empty shops in Sidmouth remain as empty shops to let, which although currently may paint a rather gloomy picture, must be an encouraging sign on behalf of the landlords who always take a long term view on a property and obviously feel as though Sidmouth still has a strong retail future, which ultimately it has. ‘Sidmouth town centre still has a strong retail future’ | Sidmouth Herald

With more ideas from Vincent Page this year: Is Sidmouth quieter than usual for this time of year? | Sidmouth Herald and Don’t be the victim, face the ‘abyss’ head on | Sidmouth Herald

Meanwhile, the town council is setting out its sustainable tourism strategy: New ‘tourism strategy’ network set up for East Devon | Sidmouth Herald

And a tourist business up the road is doing very well: Three local businesses win Golds at Devon Tourism Awards | Sidmouth Herald

So, is business confidence returning to the Sid Valley?