Business confidence in London rose 20 points during April, to 32 per cent, its highest level since January 2020.
Moreover, companies in the capital reported higher confidence in their own business prospects month-on-month, up 17 points at 31 per cent, according to the latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.
When taken alongside their optimism in the economy, up 22 points to 33 per cent, this gives a headline confidence reading of 32 per cent.
When it comes to jobs, a net balance of 11 per cent of businesses across London expect to increase staff levels over the next year, up two points on last month.
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“It’s clear that the ongoing easing of lockdown restrictions is having a huge impact on the outlook of London businesses, no doubt buoyed by the reopening of the city’s retail and hospitality sectors, in particular,” said Mark Amis, regional director for London at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.
“With not all pubs and restaurants being able to offer outdoor seating, we may see a further surge in confidence when they can all welcome customers back inside from mid-May,” he added.
Similar picture across the UK
Overall UK business confidence surged 14 points in April to 29 per cent, the highest reading since September 2018.
The result follows the reopening of outdoor hospitality venues and non-essential retail and personal services providers in England and comes ahead of further lockdown restrictions easing in Wales and Scotland.
Firms’ confidence in their own business prospects rose by 14 points to 26 per cent, and their optimism in the economy increased by 15 points to 32 per cent.
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Most UK regions and nations reported a month-on-month increase in confidence during April, with firms in the South West (up 22 points to 30 per cent), the East Midlands (up 20 points to 40 per cent), Yorkshire and the Humber (up 20 points to 32 per cent), and London reporting the largest surges.
No nation or region reported a fall in confidence, and nowhere had a net-negative confidence reading for the first time since July 2019.
Increase in all sectors
Confidence increased in all sectors, with manufacturing and retail confidence levels at three-year highs.
Manufacturing stood out as the most positive sector (40 per cent), likely reflecting strong global demand and notwithstanding ongoing supply chain issues.
Meanwhile, retail confidence jumped to 39 per cent, while construction confidence also increased to 28 per cent. Services confidence rose to 25 per cent, which was also the highest it has been since 2018.
The Business Barometer questions 1,200 businesses monthly and provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide.