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Suffolk businesses – especially exporters – enjoyed surprisingly strong trading conditions across July to September, according to the latest results from Suffolk Chamber of Commerce’s Quarterly Economic Survey (QES).

Most of the measures recorded by the QES rose in Suffolk, whilst the majority in the wider eastern region fell – a reversal on the previous three months.

With the notable exception of domestic orders, all of the main indicators for manufacturers improved quarter-on-quarter. Domestic sales rose three percentage points (to +8% ie more respondents registered increases than decreases), export sales rose by 57 percentage points (+14%), export orders were up by 50 percentage points (0%) and employment expectations increased by 34 percentage points (+44%).

There were also improvements to all day-to-day indicators as well: cash flow up five percentage points (0%), investment in plant and machinery up by 23 percentage points (+4%), confidence in improving turnover by 15 percentage points (+38%) and confidence in improving profitability by 18 percentage points (+4%).

The picture was more mixed for services firms, with welcome increases of 40 percentage points in export sales (+19%) and 33 percentage points in export orders (+6%) somewhat offset by declines in in employment expectations and cash flow, with the latter now in negative territory (-4%).

Concern over inflation among Suffolk businesses eased again to its lowest level for two years, although two out of three still see classify rising prices as a worry for them. 49% of respondents identified interest rates as a worry with 34% mentioning corporate taxation.

Matt Moss, chair of Suffolk Chamber’s Economy Group, said: “Whilst one better-than-expected trading quarter doesn’t guarantee a longer-term recovery yet, I do believe that Suffolk remains in a better position than most to withstand future shocks and take swift advantage of new opportunities.

“Suffolk Chamber’s Economy Group will be meeting soon to discuss these findings in order to fine-tune our lobbying of the Government ahead of the Autumn Statement, not least in calling for reductions in taxes on business to give them the breathing space needed to rebuild their longer-term investment programmes.”

Paul Simon, Suffolk Chamber’s head of public affairs, added: “Suffolk business activity and sentiment seems to be in yo-yo mode at the moment. Initial signs of recovery in the first quarter were followed by another down draught in the second. The figures for the third quarter certainly show a welcome bounce, but the question is: for how long?”

Suffolk Chamber is grateful to Suffolk Knowledge, part of Suffolk County Council, for providing the analysis of this QES.


The Suffolk Chamber of Commerce Quarterly Economic Survey forms part of The British Chambers of Commerce's quarterly economic survey, the largest independent business survey in the UK and a significant economic indicator. Find out more about the results from national British Chamber of Commerce QES Quarter 3 survey. Find out more about the British Chamber of Commerce Quarterly Economic Survey

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Suffolk Chamber

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