Posted by

Tom Nolan

08 Apr 2014

In 1989 the BCC took the decision to bring together survey work that various individual Chambers of Commerce had been doing for years to compile a national economic survey. Since then the Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) has earned a reputation as one of the most respected guides to how the UK economy is performing. They are many reasons for this, not least, the large number of businesses that respond. It has consistently received around 7,500 for many years now. And this number includes businesses of all sizes, in all sectors and in all regions and nations of the UK.

This quarter the results are particularly impressive and provide further evidence that the UK economy is growing at a decent pace. In the service sector, both export orders and sales are at new all-time highs, and many key manufacturing balances are also at record levels. In fact, six key manufacturing balances are at all-time highs. This continues a trend seen over the last three quarters where an initial spurt in manufacturing has developed into consistent growth: domestic sales (+38%), domestic orders (+42%), employment expectations (+40%), investment in plant and machinery (+37%), investment in training (+33%), and turnover confidence (+67%).

The most disappointing return this quarter was the fall in the employment indicator, especially for service firms. But this could be viewed as a correction after the large jump that was recorded at the end of 2013. The figure is now back to more normal levels. We will have to wait until the next survey to see if a trend is emerging and if it is something to be concerned about.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the survey we have launched dedicated QES website ( The site went live on 8 April and is a great way to interact with the survey and view the results over time. Hope you enjoy using it!