New Buckinghamshire business survey highlights challenging trading but also optimism

High Wycombe

Buckinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Buckinghamshire Business First, the business-led, business-focused community for new, established and growing businesses across Buckinghamshire, have launched a new business survey to track business confidence and performance as the economy starts to recover from the shock of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Buckinghamshire Business Barometer will be conducted quarterly and will help inform local and national economic policy.

The first survey, conducted between January and March 2021, shows just how tough trading conditions have been for local firms, with three quarters of respondents reporting that business conditions were ‘worse than normal’ for the time of year. The majority of firms responding to the survey experienced declines in profit, turnover, order books/ pipeline and sales in the first quarter of 2021. Overall, 85 per cent of respondents said that they had be negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, there are signs of optimism with a sizeable proportion of respondents reporting plans to invest in their business during the next quarter. 57 per cent plan to invest in marketing and/or advertising, whilst just under half of plan to invest in training and development, and in digital technologies (46 per cent and 44 per cent respectively). Furthermore, just over a quarter report plans to invest in equipment and/ or machinery. Encouragingly, more respondents plan to increase their employee headcount (24 per cent) than to decease their headcount (eight per cent).

Caroline Perkins, Research Manager at Buckinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “I am delighted to introduce the first Buckinghamshire Business Barometer which aims to gauge local business confidence and performance as the economy emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic. It is testament to the entrepreneurial nature of businesses in Buckinghamshire that despite the major challenges over the past year, the results from this first report reflect the extent to which they have adapted to deal with the fall out of the pandemic.”

Any Buckinghamshire businesses who would like to participate in the next Barometer survey, can register their interest via info@bbf.uk.com. The full Buckinghamshire Business Barometer report can be downloaded at: www.buckstvlep.co.uk/useful-information/publications-reports/.