Haslemere Business Barometer Q4 2019

Welcome to the third report of the Haslemere Business Barometer, a quarterly survey to assess the confidence of Haslemere’s local business community.

Our third survey spanned the period including the general election but closed before UK had formally left the European Union.  The results show that continued uncertainty about the UK’s exit from the EU and intentions of the new government were still the focus of concern for local businesses. The overall sentiment of Haslemere businesses remains largely unchanged from the previous quarter as 68 percent report that they 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, the UK has formally left the EU and formal negotiations about the future relationship have yet to start. The Chamber will continue to lobby on behalf of all members to ensure that Haslemere stays firmly on the business map. 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 you think in order to make strong representation on your behalf.

We will build on the feedback from the Business Barometer over the coming weeks and months and will continue to raise awareness of these findings with local and national influencers.

Craig McGowan, President of the Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce

Summary

The third Haslemere Business Barometer shows that in the face of concerns about post-Brexit Britain, Haslemere businesses are expecting little or no growth and report a further slight fall in confidence from the previous quarter. Local businesses also cite worries relating to footfall, the need to attract new customers and limited capacity.

25 businesses operating within five miles of Haslemere centre responded to the online survey which ran between 1 December 2019 and 10 January 2020.

A generally stable outlook for Haslemere businesses

The responses suggest:

No growth in the next Quarter On average, and ignoring seasonal factors, Haslemere businesses expect no underlying growth over the next three months. There is a slight reduction in growth expectations from Q3 (from an average score of 3.0 to 2.8), although this may be a statistical variation rather than a real trend. The situation is not static however, with around 15% of respondents expecting their business to grow and slightly more expecting to shrink.

Confidence has fallen slightly On average Haslemere businesses are slightly less optimistic about their prospects than they were three months ago; the average score has fallen from 2.8 to 2.6. This might indicate a trend of declining confidence from 3.0 in Q2 2019.  However, this too could be a statistical feature due to the reduced sample of businesses in the survey.

 Business concerns – Brexit dominates By far the biggest area of concern to Haslemere businesses is Brexit and the associated economic uncertainty and fall-out; this was mentioned by about 68% of respondents. Other concerns are with more local issues including footfall, capacity limitations, gaining new business and criminal activity

The Survey Participants

There were 25 responses to the Q3 survey.  All of them were micro  independent businesses with 1-9 members of staff

The largest sector in the sample of respondents is Other (including Education and Financial & Insurance) (8) with Professional, scientific and technical (6).  Geographic location is dominated by Haslemere (19) with five based within five miles of the town centre, but only one from Weyhill/Shottermill.

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