Small business are sounding a pessimistic note on their chances of growing this year, new research suggests.
Seventy per cent do not expect their performance to improve over the coming three months, according to the latest study from the Federation of Small Businesses.
The FSB’s confidence index has fallen for four consecutive quarters for the first time since it began in 2010. It stood at -8.8 for the second quarter of 2019, down 22 points compared to the same period in 2018.
Two thirds of small firms do not expect their performance to improve next quarter, and 42 per cent said profits were down in the latest quarter.
A third of exporters says international sales have dropped off – another record-high.
The FSB noted that increasing auto-enrolment contributions are one contribution to rising costs for small businesses, but that Brexit was also causing continued concern.
FSB national chairman Mike Cherry says: “Small business owners are increasingly being left with our heads in our hands as we’re hit on all sides by fresh costs, reporting requirements, political uncertainty, and the re-emerging threat of a cliff-edge no-deal Brexit in just 20 weeks’ time.
“With attention switching to the race for prime minister, we need all candidates to set out their plan to back entrepreneurs and address the mounting challenges they face.”