Northern Ireland Businesses Bounce Back in January: Survey Shows Strong Growth, Boosting Confidence

Northern Ireland Businesses Experience a Surge in Confidence

A recent survey by Ulster Bank has shown that Northern Ireland businesses experienced strong growth in their order books in January, boosting confidence in their overall economic outlook. The survey, which asks companies about various aspects of their business operations, is considered to be a reliable indicator of economic performance.

The private sector in Northern Ireland started 2024 on a stronger footing than it ended 2023, with optimism at a 32-month high. Renewed confidence was linked to the launch of new products and higher orders across all four sectors – manufacturing, services, retail, and construction. There was also a notable pick-up in domestic demand, leading to the first rise in new orders in eight months.

In January, manufacturing, services, and construction companies all took on more staff, while retailers reduced their staffing levels for the first time in more than a year. Mr. Ramsey highlighted the increase in business confidence as the most surprising finding of the survey. He also noted that local firms were their most optimistic about future output levels since May 2021. This outlook predates the restoration of Stormont and is expected to be reflected in February’s survey. Despite the construction sector reporting a fall in business activity, the overall sentiment was positive and indicated growth across various industries.

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