Tough trading conditions has hit confidence and investment hard in NI
12 January 2021
The Q4 2020 Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) highlights that recovery in business activity in Northern Ireland has slowed during Quarter 4. After the severe collapse experienced in Quarter 2 following the onset of the COVID-19 crisis and effective lock down of the Northern Ireland economy all key business indicators including those around trade, jobs and confidence improved in Quarter 3. However, Quarter
4 suggests only a marginal improvement on Quarter 3 and almost all key business indicators remaining negative meaning that there are still more businesses in Northern Ireland reporting worsening business conditions than those reporting any improvement. Most key business indicators remain significantly weaker than before the pandemic struck.
The QES survey focuses on “key balances” around a number of business indicators including local sales, exports, employment and confidence. The balance is determined by taking the percentage of firms reporting increases in a key balance and subtracting the percentage of firms reporting decreases e.g. if
15% report a rise in sales and 50% report a fall in sales then the balance is -35%.
Almost 200 members responded to the NI Chamber of Commerce & Industry Quarterly Economic Survey (QES), in partnership with BDO, for the 4th quarter of 2020. Together they account for over 13,000 jobs in Northern Ireland.
The fieldwork for the Quarter 4 survey took place between 5th and 26th November 2020, around 8 months into the COVID crisis and just before new restrictions came in to force that closed parts of the business sector including hospitality and non-essential retail for 2 weeks.