Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Bishop Fleming, has released the results of the latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) outlining key economic indicators for Quarter 4 (Q4) 2019. The data has been gathered by consulting with over 600 businesses across the two counties.

The report, from Q4 2019, focuses specially on the extent of strategic business planning among businesses in the two counties, as well as the standardised data regarding domestic and overseas sales and orders, investment, business concerns, business confidence, and the current labour market.

The results of the report are startling, particularly the figure which demonstrates that 50 per cent of businesses surveyed either didn’t have a strategic business plan or had an undocumented plan. That figure rose to 60 per cent of SMEs, who represent 99.9 per cent of businesses across the UK.

The longer-term negative impacts of prolonged EU Exit negotiations are clearly demonstrated by this report. Domestic sales decreased for the fifth quarter in a row, and overseas orders were negative for the second successive quarter. As the data collection took place in November 2019, the results also demonstrate the impact of the uncertainty associated with the build up to the General Election.

There are some tentative signs of recovery however, with the percentage of businesses planning to increase investment in training and machinery increasing respectively since last quarter (Q3). The percentage of businesses investing in machinery doubled from seven per cent in Q3 2019 to 15 per cent this quarter (Q4 2019). The percentage of businesses investing in training increased from 11 per cent (Q3 2019) to 17 per cent (Q4 2019). These figures suggest that businesses can no longer afford to hold off on critical investments.

Business confidence has also made a tentative recovery. The percentage of businesses who think their profitability will increase over the next 12 months increased from 20 per cent (Q3 2019) to 29 per cent this quarter (Q4 2019).

To ensure that confidence continues to grow, the government must release detailed information outlining the necessary preparations businesses must make to ensure a smooth exit from the EU.

To download the full report now, visit