Confidence levels low among West Midlands small businesses, report says

Research published today by the Federation of Small Businesses has revealed confidence levels of West Midlands business owners has declined sharply in response to worsening trading conditions.

Rob Harrison, FSB West Midlands Policy Representative
Rob Harrison, FSB West Midlands Policy Representative

The West Midlands Small Business Index (WMSBI) shows that the headline confidence figure in quarter four of 2022 fell to -53 points, with more small firms reporting a drop in revenues over the previous three months (44%) than reported a rise (32%).

Their outlook for the next three months reflected this, with almost half (49%) expecting to see a fall in revenues against little more than a quarter (27%) expecting an increase.

The proportion of small businesses which saw employee numbers fall (12%) outweighed the share which gained staff (9%) over the previous three months.

Similarly, the intentions for the next three months are for a smaller proportion (8%) to increase their staff numbers against one in ten (10%) expecting to see a fall.

There is more positive news with regards to regional SMEs’ growth and investment aspirations.

A higher proportion (39%) intend to grow sales and turnover moderately or rapidly, compared to the smaller proportion (16%) who expect to downsize, sell or close their business.

Marginally more (21%) expect to increase capital investment in their business than expect to decrease it (20%) during the coming quarter.

Rob Harrison, FSB West Midlands Policy Representative and Partner in regional SME Glued Research, Design and Marketing said: “With so many challenges facing so many of our small businesses in the West Midlands, it’s hardly surprising that confidence, quarter-on-quarter and year-on-year, has plummeted.

“Even so, it is heartening to see that more than twice as many expect to grow than expect to downsize.

“FSB will harness this positivity and work closely with Government and stakeholders at all levels, to push for the positive actions and strong leadership necessary to help our innovative, resilient and resourceful small businesses to survive and thrive in these turbulent times."

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