No cause to celebrate for businesses at the end of 2020

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Via Kristy Dorsey

Across the U.K., economic conditions According to a leading business community, they have not changed dramatically since the second quarter of 2020, when the Covid pandemic first plunged the economy into turbulence.

The quarterly business survey of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) found that in the final three months of last year, business conditions stayed near historic lows as a second round of lockdowns in England and Northern Ireland, along with tighter restrictions in Scotland and Wales, curtailed activity. A decrease in domestic sales was announced by almost half of the companies (43 percent), while 38 percent reported declining export sales.

The biggest revenue losses were suffered by companies based on consumption. Seventy-nine percent of companies reported declining revenue in the hospitality and food service industry. But companies that continued to do business during the pandemic still suffered, with lower sales also being recorded by a greater proportion of these businesses.

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The latest big closure in all four UK nations will add to the gloom for many companies still dealing with the consequences of the pandemic and now trying to adjust to the new trading conditions at the end of the Brexit transition phase, said Adam Marshall, director general of the BCC.

“For businesses, the pandemic doesn’t end just because the vaccines are delivered,” Marshall said.

The earlier the prime minister and his team come up with a clear economic strategy and longer-term funding to help companies reboot, rebuild and renew, the better.’ Nor is Brexit’ done.’

Although manufacturing firms had a “moderately” better end to 2020, the BCC said this was definitely a temporary Brexit boost rather than proof of recovery. Investment plans remain sluggish in all industries, with 35% of businesses reporting lower plant, machinery and equipment investment.

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