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Wednesday 23rd May 2001

The May survey results show the views of smaller businesses on what influences Investment planning, about Export orders and the issue of Security and Crime. Results are summarised here. For the latest results please visit


  • 78% of smaller businesses responding to the Survey are not postponing any major strategic decisions until after the June General election.

  • 50% of respondents have not changed their plans to invest in plant and machinery over the last three months, while the remainder have split nearly equally between increasing and decreasing their plant and equipment plans.

  • It appears that plant and equipment planning is highly related to business orders/market demand, with 60% of respondents giving this as the greatest influence. Expected profitability came second with 21%. Economic uncertainty is the greatest influence on the third largest group of businesses, while interest rates are the strongest influence for only 1% of businesses. 8% of businesses see other factors as having the greatest bearing - future Surveys will explore this further.

  • Of the respondents who sell goods and services to the US, a small majority (58%) found export orders unchanged, 12% of the remainder received increases in orders, but for 30% export orders dropped, on a seasonally adjusted basis.

  • Of exporters to Europe, half found export orders unchanged, while 15% increased their export order book, 34% experienced decreases.

  • Most of those exporting to the rest of the world found orders unchanged (57%),with a closer balance between increases (21%) and decreases (23%).

  • Security and crime are issues for all but 13% of smaller businesses responding to our survey, and for 12% they are highly significant.

  • A higher percentage of businesses (14%) reported that they are highly constrained by skill shortages compared with the April survey(8%).

  • A higher percentage of businesses (20%) reported that they are not at all constrained by lack of finance compared with the April survey(17%).

  • A higher percentage of businesses (24%) reported that they are highly constrained by low market demand compared with the April survey(20%) and a lower percentage (8%) reported that they are not at all constrained by low market demand (12%).

  • Significant expansion over the last three months was reported by 5% of businesses, compared with 11% reported in April. Increases in percentages were reported at the 'expanded somewhat' and 'remained static' levels.

  • Although a smaller percentage of businesses (5%) than in April(8%) expect to expand by over 10% in the next quarter, a higher percentage (43%) than in April (37%) expect to expand by between 5% and 10%. The percentage expecting to remain static (i.e. between decline of 5% and growth of 5%) remains about the same, at 39% / Tel: 0115 84 66860.

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