The latest research from Robson Laidler in collaboration with the UK200Group provides a comprehensive snapshot of the UK business confidence landscape.


The survey reveals that 35% of businesses maintain a positive outlook, a slight increase from the previous year’s 34%, but still lower than the 48% reported in 2021.


There is also a significant decrease in the number of businesses with a bleak outlook, down to 14% from 23% in 2022.


The performance of businesses in the past year has been varied. Around 30% reported an improvement over the previous year, while 28% experienced a downturn.


Significantly, 42% of businesses reported their performance as being on par with the usual, suggesting a sense of stability amidst challenging times.


When asked to describe their outlook for the next 12 months in one word, businesses displayed a blend of optimism, caution, and anticipation of challenges. Words such as ‘Positive’, ‘Optimistic’, ‘Hopeful’, ‘Upbeat’, ‘Encouraging’, and ‘Rosy’ were frequently mentioned, highlighting an undercurrent of hope despite the challenges ahead. However, this optimism is tempered with prudence, indicated by terms like ‘Cautious’, ‘Careful’, ‘Wary’, and ‘Cautiously optimistic’.


Businesses also anticipate difficulties in the upcoming year, suggested by the commonly used term ‘Challenging’ and other words like ‘Testing’, ‘Difficult’, ‘Turbulent’ and ‘Hardwork’. Interestingly, some businesses used more neutral or even negative terms such as ‘Flat’, ‘Resigned’, ‘Dire’, ‘Average’, ‘Steady’, ‘the same’, ‘Slow’, ‘Poor’, and ‘Recession’. These responses might reflect dissatisfaction, stagnation, or concerns about declining economic conditions.


When asked to name their biggest concerns for the next 12 months, most businesses pointed to economic and political factors. The issues of ‘costs’, ‘inflation’, ‘interest rates’, ‘recession’, and ‘election’ were frequently mentioned, suggesting that businesses are grappling with financial pressures due to rising operational costs, increasing inflation, and higher interest rates.


Robson Laidler’s associate director and business advisor Jack Spoor commented on the findings: “The business confidence research underscores the complexities of operating in an uncertain and challenging economic and political environment. To overcome these obstacles, businesses need to demonstrate careful planning, adaptability, and resilience in the year ahead.”

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