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1st April 2021

Chambers Wales report on the findings of the Q1 Quarterly Economic Survey

Chambers Wales’ Quarterly Economic Survey – an independent survey of business sentiment – has found that Welsh businesses are optimistic about the future despite a difficult start to the year.

Part of the wider British Chambers of Commerce’s Quarterly Economic Survey, now in its 32nd year, the survey is a leading indicator of UK GDP growth and is closely watched by policymakers, including HM Treasury and the Bank of England.

The key findings of the survey, which was completed by 146 participants, indicate that continued government funding and business confidence are opportunities for recovery. The pandemic and Brexit are perceived to be the greatest barriers to recovering full turnover currently but the survey returned positive findings regarding sales and cashflow.

59.1% of businesses involved in overseas markets have reported that export sales have remained constant or increased, while two thirds have noted that their cash flow over the last quarter has remained the same or improved.

Over half of businesses who engaged with the survey cited people and skills as the internal barriers to recovery. 62% of businesses have experienced difficulty in finding suitable staff, particularly for skilled jobs, highlighting a need for efficient upskilling and training programmes.

Heather Anstey-Myers, Chief Executive of Chambers Wales, said: “The Quarterly Economic Survey is a litmus test of the mood and issues facing businesses and it is heartening that the findings today show that Welsh businesses are optimistic about the future, despite a difficult and challenging start to the year.

“With the country slowly reopening for business and the successful vaccination rollout ongoing, business confidence is growing, and more than half of Welsh businesses expect their revenue to increase over the next year. While the combined impact of the pandemic and end of the Brexit transition period is still being felt, continued government funding remains a vital support.

“Internally, businesses are looking to upskilling to overcome difficulties in sourcing suitable staff, especially for skilled roles. Almost two thirds of businesses have cited a lack of skilled and trained professionals available as barriers to recruitment; reflecting similar results of an in-event poll we held during an upskilling and reskilling debate earlier this year. As businesses repeatedly tell us, there is a real need for action in this area to enable firms to grow and thrive.

“As an accredited British Chamber of Commerce, Chambers Wales are helping to bridge this training gap with industry recognised qualifications to support members and boost business confidence when trading, as well as facilitating the link between businesses and educational institutions to provide access to upskilling opportunities.”

If you would like to take part in the next Quarterly Economic Survey, connect with Chambers Wales. You can subscribe to the Chambers Wales monthly newsletter to be notified when the next survey goes live or follow Chambers Wales on social media for updates.

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