Businesses in the south west are being urged to seize export opportunities as confidence slips back to a new two-and-a-half year low.
The latest Business in Britain report from Lloyds TSB Commercial, which canvasses the views of 155 firms in Devon, Cornwall, Bristol and Somerset, shows that business confidence has fallen to its lowest level since mid-2009, when the economy was starting to emerge from recession.
Firms remain particularly worried about the outlook for demand in domestic markets, and are continuing to rein in recruitment and investment spending as a result.
However, the report says businesses in the south west, while indicating a dip in confidence in Europe versus July, remain upbeat about prospects in export markets in the rest of the world.
Paul Spencer, regional director for Lloyds TSB Commercial in the south and west, said: “Export markets outside Europe will be the key to growth for businesses, in what will undeniably be a tough start to the year.
“It is understandable that businesses are keeping the brakes on investment, given the volatile economic climate, but in order to break the cycle of dwindling confidence leading to slower growth, it is crucial that firms in the south west do whatever they can to maximise opportunities, at home or overseas.”