A recent survey by Ulster Bank reveals that businesses in Northern Ireland experienced a significant increase in activity and confidence due to strong growth in their order books last month. This survey, which assesses various aspects of firms such as staffing levels, exports, and new orders, is considered a reliable indicator of economic performance.
According to Richard Ramsey, the bank’s chief economist, optimism among local firms reached a 32-month high. The surge in business confidence was the biggest surprise in the latest survey. Ramsey attributed this renewed optimism to the launch of new products and higher orders. Additionally, he noted that local firms were most optimistic about future output levels since May 2021.
The impact of political developments on sentiment is expected to 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 after eight months.
Furthermore, manufacturing, services, and construction firms all took on more staff last month, while retailers reduced their staffing levels for the first time in over a year. Overall, these findings suggest a positive start to the new year for Northern Ireland’s private sector.
In conclusion, companies in Northern Ireland experienced an increase in business activity and boosted confidence due to strong growth in their order books last month according to Ulster Bank’s survey. The surge in business confidence was surprising due to political developments and was attributed to new product launches and higher orders. This renewed optimism is evident across all four sectors with domestic demand picking up notably for the first time after eight months.
Furthermore, three out of four sectors reported an increase in business activity while only one sector recorded a fall which indicates that domestic demand played a significant role