UK business confidence drops dramatically following Brexit as export fears emerge

Business confidence has fallen following Britain’s vote to leave the EU as new anxieties over how it will impact the exports market emerge.

In the week following the vote for Brexit, the YouGov/Cebr business confidence index fell seven points, down from 112.6 just before the referendum to 105.0 in the wake of the vote to Leave.

The figures, which are the result of a quarterly survey of over 1500 business-decision makers, look into predictions of expected sales, exports, investments, backward and forward-looking measures, optimism in the economy and personal business performance over the next 12 months.

And perhaps most worryingly, the index shows the share of businesses concerned about the overall economic outlook has doubled from 25% to 49%. When asked if they held negative sentiment toward their own business’ economic outlook, the share of votes has also shifted – moving from 16% before the referendum to 26% post-referendum.

Expectations resized

Specific areas where post-Brexit pessimism is most high include sales, exports and capital investment. Over the last week, for example, the confidence index of businesses polled on their domestic sales prospects for the year ahead fell almost 14 points from 118.8 to 104.9, while hope for exports fell by 15 points from 115.8 to to 99.8.

Scott Corfe, Director at the Centre for Economics and Business Research told Marketing Week he believes B2B marketing operations will be more affected than B2C.

“The biggest thing will be declining business investment and a decline in B2B spending”

Scott Corfe, Director, Cebr

Though the results highlight a potential decline in export growth going forward, Corfe said they show a “significant shock reaction,” and that “the proposal to cut corporation tax as a response to Brexit could actually have benefits in the longer term. It all depends on what Britain’s future relationship with Europe is like.”

He continued: “The result is an instant reaction from businesses. The big question for me is, is this something that will persist or is there an initial overreaction, like with the financial sector, and will confidence start to pick up again once the dust settles?”

“If we can maintain free trade with Europe, Britain’s businesses can continue in a competitive economic country. Sterling has been overvalued for some time and the vote could make British exports more price competitive, though businesses would have to reevaluate and look to more exports as opposed to imports.”

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