SME Confidence Tracker

Quarter 1, 2019

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Research reveals latest confidence levels of UK SMEs

Our SME Confidence Tracker surveys 1,000 of the UK’s small and medium-sized businesses on a quarterly basis. The tracker charts the confidence of owners and senior decision-makers of businesses in manufacturing, construction, wholesale, transport, and services sectors.

The tracker includes an SME Confidence Index statistic compiled by equally weighting sales performance over three months with expected sales performance over the three-month period ahead.

Below are some highlights from the Q1 2019 report which is available to download for free.

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Key findings in Q1 2019

  • 57% believe a recession is likely in 2019
  • 49% are not intending to invest in Q2 2019 because of Brexit uncertainty
  • 44% expect sales to increase in Q2 2019
  • 20% plan to expand within the UK in Q2 2019
  • 31% have experienced bad debt in Q1 2019

Overview from our business experts

The Q1 2019 SME Confidence Tracker features commentary by our UK Chief Executive, and analysis of current challenges by our leading experts across the trade, commercial and leasing sectors.

Is Brexit the dead weight on our otherwise robust economy?

“SMEs are signalling trouble ahead for the economy. Most worryingly, over half (57%) believe that the UK is likely to enter a recession this year.” UK Chief Executive, Ted Winterton, charts SME confidence as Brexit continues to loom.

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The pressure on SMEs

“The research this quarter shows that SMEs are under pressure to keep costs low with nearly a fifth (19%) signalling the rising price of raw materials and overheads as their biggest challenge.” UK Commercial Director, Sharon Wiltshire, shares the challenges of SMEs amid the current uncertain economic environment.

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UK Trade and Brexit – where do we go from here? 

“Three years since discussions began, we’re still no clearer on what to expect from our new trade policy: deal, or no-deal. If there is one thing the negotiations have made clear it is how heavily SMEs rely on trade, particularly imports, and the threat Brexit represents to them.” Managing Director of Trade Finance, Gary Griffiths, outlines practical steps SMEs can take to minimise the impact of Brexit.

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Are other lenders pulling back from the leasing market?

“In the first quarter of 2019, over a quarter (26%) of UK SMEs invested in new machinery and equipment, demonstrating that the ability to purchase new assets plays a crucial role in business growth.” Managing Director of Leasing, Ian Wilkins, comments on the leasing market in light of potential economic downturn fuelled by Brexit uncertainty.

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