• Fri. Mar 1st, 2024

Northern Ireland’s Private Sector Optimistic and Confident as Order Books Surge in January, Survey Shows


Feb 12, 2024
Northern Ireland businesses experience an increase in confidence, reports show

A survey by Ulster Bank reveals that companies in Northern Ireland experienced a significant increase in business activity and a boost in confidence due to strong growth in their order books last month. The survey, which asks firms about issues such as staffing levels, exports, and new orders, is considered a reliable indicator of economic performance and suggests that the private sector began 2024 in a stronger position than it ended 2023.

The bank’s chief economist, Richard Ramsey, stated that optimism was at a 32-month high and that the surge in business confidence was the biggest surprise in the latest survey. He noted that local firms were most optimistic about future output levels since May 2021, and this positive sentiment was evident across all four sectors. Ramsey attributed this renewed optimism to the launch of new products and higher orders.

According to Ramsey, the impact of political developments in Northern Ireland on sentiment should become apparent in February’s survey. Three of the four sectors – manufacturing, services, and retail – reported an increase in business activity in January, with only the construction sector reporting a fall. Ramsey highlighted a notable pick-up in domestic demand, leading to the first rise in new orders in eight months.

In addition to this positive news, manufacturing, services, and construction firms all took on more staff last month, with only retailers reducing their staffing levels for the first time in more than a year. Overall, the survey suggests a positive start to the new year for Northern Ireland’s private sector.

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