Thursday, November 1st, 2001

In the light of world events over the last few weeks, the October survey set out to assess the impact of increased economic uncertainty upon different aspects of business experiences and strategies. Results are summarised here but for the complete analysis please visit results.

  • Bad debt has increased significantly for 4.5% of panellists responding, but for 45.5% the increase has been insignificant. However increases in delayed payment by customers are significant to 8.3% of respondents and a further 25.8% had substantial increases, while only 22% are reporting an insignificant increase in late payments.

  • 46.9% of respondents have had to place more emphasis on controlling liquidity, either significantly or substantially. 27.3% of our sample of businesses have had to postpone investment in plant and/or equipment, either significantly or substantially.

  • The impact on prices has been light so far - 56.1% say they have made no change to output prices.

  • We were interested in where businesses turn to for advice when uncertainty hits trading conditions. In-house colleagues was the most popular response, with 34.1%. Alternatives included an Accountant (15.2%), trade association (11.4%), business colleagues outside the firm (16.7%) with Bank Manager coming in at only 3.8%.

  • Recent reductions in interest rates have been made to help businesses continue with activities, and we asked if the reductions will offset the problems caused by the more uncertain trading conditions. Broadly, this got a negative response. Only 4.5% thought they would do so significantly, while 27.3% thought the impact would be insignificant, with a further 29.5 registering fairly insignificant. 25.8% remained neutral.

  • The Core Questions responses showed the following results this month:

  • Constraint on businesses due to shortages of skills decreased on average compared to September, across all business sectors. Smaller firms seem to be benefiting more than larger.

  • A small average increase in business constraint due to lack of finance showed up in October, compared to the previous month.

  • Average constraint due to low market demand showed a small increase in the month.

  • The profile of growth over the last three months in October showed a small but not significant decline from that in September. Expectations about growth over the next three months were slightly more pessimistic than in September, but again not significantly so.

rick.eagles@nottingham.ac.uk / Tel: 0115 84 66860.