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Having started the year at the lowest point since the financial crash in 2008, business confidence in London improved during the first quarter of 2021. Whilst remaining at low levels, the proportion of business leaders saying that London’s economic prospects will improve over the coming year has risen...

Having started the year at the lowest point since the financial crash in 2008, business confidence in London improved during the first quarter of 2021.

Whilst remaining at low levels, the proportion of business leaders saying that London’s economic prospects will improve over the coming year has risen to nearly a third (29%), compared to 20% during Q4 2020.

The proportion saying that London’s prospects will worsen has reduced from 60% to 45%.

Amidst vaccine rollout and publication of the lockdown easing roadmap, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry worked with Savanta ComRes to poll 500 London business leaders between February 4 and March 16 about their company’s performance, as part of LCCI’s ‘Capital 500’ quarterly survey.

Results also show a 10-percentage point increase compared to the previous quarter in the proportion of business leaders who said that UK economic prospects would improve over the coming year.

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Whilst remaining negative overall, confidence also increased amongst business leaders about their company’s ability to increase turnover and profits.

The challenging context in which businesses continue to operate is however brought home through the results, with at least two in five London business decision-makers surveyed saying their levels of cashflow (50%), business domestic orders (45%) and domestic sales (42%) have gone down over the past three months compared to the previous three months.

Whilst 36% of businesses who have export sales reported a decrease – a larger proportion than the 32% who said so during the previous quarter.

Richard Burge, Chief Executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “Despite the implications of COVID-19, and Brexit, on the performance of many businesses, confidence in the London and UK economy has risen during Q1 2021 – albeit from a low base rate and still in negative territory.

“The successful initial roll-out of the vaccine programme, and the hope that it allows for a safe and sustainable reopening of the economy, is perhaps the driver behind that upturn.

“As we move along the road to reopening and recovery, the vaccination programme must continue to reach as many people as possible, and national and London government must put their full support behind the role that London, and its global economy, can play in driving the UK’s economic recovery from Covid-19.”

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