Confidence levels amongst small businesses in the East Midlands are the highest in the UK, according to the latest study by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
With trading restrictions having now eased across England and Wales, the business group reports that its SBI confidence measure for the region has risen to +50 in Q1 of this year, up from -23 last quarter. The region’s confidence figure stands significantly higher than the UK average of +27.3.
As the lockdown continued to scupper spending opportunities across the UK, more than half of small firms (51%) in the region reported a decrease in revenue over the last three months.
Looking ahead, more than half (55%) do expect revenues to increase over the next quarter. Promisingly, more than half (54%) of the region’s businesses also aspire to grow their firms over the next 12 months.
The figures also show that 39% increased the average salary across their business over the last 12 months, with 33% increasing wages by 2% or more. Just over half (53%) expect to see salary increases over the next 12 months, with 26% reporting the likely increase to be above 2%.
FSB East Midlands Policy Representative, Businesswoman Clare Elsby, said: “With surging levels of optimism and upticks in three critical business areas – confidence, employment and wages, and future growth – small businesses in the East Midlands are feeling positive about their future.
“The swift roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine and the strong ‘roadmap’ out of crippling restrictions are likely to be behind the boost in optimism and it is heartening to see SMEs across the region report that business confidence is now at its highest since the pandemic began.
“While net revenue is currently somewhat stubbornly stagnant in our area, there are certainly green shoots of recovery and the overall picture of recovery for the East Midlands is looking bright.
“We live in hope that the virus stays in retreat so the remaining indicative dates for unlocking can be met, enabling our vital night time economies, offices and travel and tourism businesses to get back to it as well.”