Blog: Signs of revival in business confidence - but what do you think?
Dean Best | 4 February 2013
One can never predict the future with certainty, least of all when it comes to the economy.
However, businesses need to forecast; their very existence depends on predicting consumer demand, commodity prices and the right economic conditions in which to invest.
And, of course, consumers themselves, monitoring their own spending, need to weigh up future economic conditions when deciding whether their should tighten or loosen their purse strings.
Broadly, in the last five years, business and consumers have been pessimistic about their future economic prospects. In many ways, it is the lack of business and consumer confidence across many Western markets that has kept the UK, European and US economies largely in the doldrums.
Demand has been depressed as consumers, broadly, have chosen to spend less, save more and, where possible, trim existing debts.
This depressed demand has hit the FMCG sector, which has seen sales volumes - even in this most recession-resilient of industries - come under pressure.
So how do business and consumers view their prospects for 2013?
In the EU, there are signs optimism among companies is growing. In January, the European Commission's economic sentiment indicator increased, amid improved confidence in services, construction and the retail trade. Confidence was up in Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and even recession-hit Spain.
In the UK, a survey from accountants ICAEW and Grant Thornton last week claimed business confidence in the country was at an 18-month high. "The UK looks set to avoid a triple-dip recession," the survey claimed.
And last month, a survey in the US by the Conference Board showed confidence among CEOs increased in the fourth quarter compared to the previous three months, even with the then concerns about the fiscal cliff across the Atlantic.
That said, a second survey from the Conference Board published last week showed consumer confidence had fallen in January. "The increase in the payroll tax has undoubtedly dampened consumers' spirits," the board said.
Here at just-food, we'd like to hear what you think about your - and the international food industry's - prospects for 2013. Later this month, we are publishing the results of our annual confidence survey, which takes in issues from consumer confidence to innovation and from M&A to sustainability.
We are surveying our readership and those that take part have the chance to win one of five annual subscriptions to just-food, worth GBP175 and which would give you complete access to our coverage of the international food sector - including daily news, incisive insight and exclusive interviews.
Click here to take part in the survey. It only takes around 10 minutes to complete. Your details will remain confidential. The results will be published in a free webinar later this month.
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