Business confidence in NW falls dramatically

  • 04 Nov 2020

NW businesses second most pessimistic in the country

  • Quarterly Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Small Business Index (SBI) posts a record ninth consecutive negative reading
  • As revenue growth hits all-time low and lay-offs hit all-time high, UK’s largest business group in the North West says now is time for further evolution of government support measures
  • More than half of small exporters say international sales have fallen over last three months ahead of UK-EU trade talk crunch point this weekend  

The FSB’s NW Small Business Index (NWSBI), which measures confidence amongst businesses, has shown a massive decline in Q3 after early signs of improvement in Q2. It now stands at -37, freefalling from last quarter’s reading of +45.


The figures suggest business confidence has plummeted in correlation with the threat from Covid which has spiralled upwards over the autumn. In the NW – which has reported some of the UK’s worst pandemic figures – the level of business uncertainty is among the highest in the country, second only to the Midlands (-44). Nationally, the FSB’s SBI records a confidence figure of –33. 

With the country on the brink of a second national lockdown, the end of the Brexit transition just around the corner, and on the back of one of the worst Christmas trading periods since records began, FSB North West said further business support measures were urgently needed from Government to ensure businesses here can power out of lockdown when the time comes. 

Click here to read the report


FSB Acting NW Policy Representative, Richard Askew, said: “Our figures for the North West clearly shows how businesses in the region continue to be negatively impacted by the pandemic. It’s quite clear the local lockdowns imposed here in hard hit areas such as Greater Manchester during the reporting period have taken their toll, with sentiment towards revenue and investment some of the lowest in the country.


“As we move in to the second national lockdown this will inevitably leave many small firms facing the bleakest winter they have ever seen, and a second deep recession in 12 months.”

He added: “FSB has consistently highlighted how far too many are still excluded from the Government’s efforts to help business owners – not least company directors and the newly self-employed. Urgent clarity is needed on how these and all small businesses will be supported as we enter this second lockdown at what is one of the worst possible times in the business calendar.

“Business and entrepreneurs in the North West have long been challenged to “level-up” the economy, but without support, certainty and confidence, such aspirations will be all but impossible. Securing a swift and positive EU deal is imperative for many small businesses at what has been an extremely difficult time.”