• Fri. Mar 1st, 2024

Northern Ireland’s Private Sector Kicks Off 2024 with Renewed Optimism and Strong Business Activity


Feb 12, 2024
Northern Ireland businesses experience an increase in confidence, reports show

Northern Ireland’s private sector began 2024 with renewed optimism and strong business activity, thanks to the surge in new orders and growth in order books last month, according to a survey by Ulster Bank. The survey, which asks firms about various issues such as staffing levels, exports, and new orders, is considered a reliable indicator of economic performance and suggests that local businesses are more confident than they were at the end of 2023.

Richard Ramsey, Ulster Bank’s chief economist, stated that the boost in business confidence was the biggest surprise in the latest survey. He noted that optimism was at a 32-month high and that local firms were most optimistic about future output levels since May 2021. Manufacturing, services, retail, and construction firms all reported an increase in business activity in January except for construction. Ramsey attributed this renewed optimism to the launch of new products and higher orders.

The impact of political developments on sentiment should become apparent in February’s survey according to Ramsey. Domestic demand played a significant role in driving the surge in new orders for the first time in eight months. Additionally, manufacturing, services, and construction firms all took on more staff last month while retailers reduced their staffing levels for the first time in more than a year. Overall, the survey suggests that Northern Ireland’s private sector had a positive start to the new year with strong business activity and increased confidence.

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