Back-to-back monthly expansion in business activity has been recorded in the region, although February’s strong return softened significantly.
The NatWest Yorkshire and Humber PMI Business Activity Index remained in positive territory, but it dipped from the eight month high leap to 52.6 back to 50.7. At just above the no change 50.0 mark, it gave the region a rare ranking as one of the weakest-performing at the end of the first quarter, against a national average of 52.2.
Although it was the lightest rise in new business, it was the best improvement in order books for the past six months.
Read more:First quarter of 2023 brings more optimism for Humber businesses – Chamber
Malcolm Buchanan, chair of the NatWest North Regional Board, said: “A sustained upturn in private sector output in March is good news, rounding off a positive opening quarter of the year despite January’s decline. However, activity and new order growth across the region lagged behind that seen across the UK as a whole in March, with Yorkshire & Humber firms ranking among the bottom performers on both counts.
“Encouragingly, a strengthening of business confidence to a 10-month high suggests that companies are looking beyond March’s slowdown and are optimistic of growth in the coming year.”
Malcolm Buchanan, chair of the NatWest North Regional Board. (Image: NatWest) New product launches, increased demand and expansion plans were reasons given by companies that were upbeat on their prospects.
Staffing levels across Yorkshire and the Humber were broadly unchanged during the latest period. While some companies expanded their workforce numbers to boost capacity and accommodate higher sales, others opted to not replace voluntary leavers.
Backlogs fell, while rapid increases in operating costs continued, leading to selling charges being lifted, with only three of the 11 monitored regions increasing faster.
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