The Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce has published the results of its second Haslemere Business Barometer report into local business confidence.
The results of the quarterly survey show that in the face of concerns about Brexit and ongoing national political uncertainty, Haslemere businesses are expecting no change in growth and report a slight fall in confidence from the previous quarter. While Brexit and the associated political and economic uncertainty and fall-out is the dominant concern, some Haslemere businesses also cite worries relating to the need to attract new customers and tackling online competition.
Key findings from the Business Barometer
- Brexit – the potential impact of the UK’s exit from the European Union is expected to be negative by two thirds of Haslemere businesses. The remaining third don’t know what to expect from Brexit or believe the impact will be minimal. None see Brexit as a business opportunity.
- Growth – on average, and ignoring seasonal factors, Haslemere businesses expect little or no underlying growth over the next three months.
- Business confidence – on average, Haslemere businesses are slightly less optimistic about their prospects than they were three months ago. There is a significant spread of views with over 35% of respondents being less optimistic than three months ago and about 15% being more optimistic.
- Local concerns – respondents highlighted concerns about the need to attract new customers (27%), citing town-specific issues such as car-parking, business closures and online competition (10%).
- Respondents – a total of 37 businesses operating within five miles of the centre of Haslemere completed the online survey which ran between 1 September and 15 October 2019. These businesses represent a wide range of sectors, with retail being the largest (one quarter of respondents). The majority are micro businesses with less than ten staff, and three companies with ten or more employees completed the survey.
Craig McGowan, President of the Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce said: “The results of our second survey demonstrate how continued uncertainty about the UK’s exit from the European Union is causing concern for local businesses, who do not see Brexit as an opportunity for growth. Others are, understandably, finding it difficult to discern the future, resulting in less positive mood music from our local business community than we saw in our first survey. These results reflect much of what the Chamber is hearing from our members and contacts on a day-to-day basis, although we also see a business community that is determined to dig deep and continue to look for ways to thrive in difficult circumstances.
“As we publish this report, campaigning in advance of a general election is getting underway. While none of us can predict the outcome of the vote on 12th December, the Chamber will do all it can to ensure that Haslemere stays firmly on the business map.”
Ian Rowley, author of the Business Barometer Report and owner of The Haslemere Bookshop said: “We are very grateful to everyone who took the time to complete the survey and would urge as many people as possible to fill in the next one – we need to know what local businesses think in order to make strong representation on their behalf with politicians and policymakers. As the Barometer grows, more and more policymakers will take note. It is an important source of information for those looking to help our local businesses grow. This, in turn, will support the wider Haslemere community, continuing to make it a great place to live and work.”