Quarterly Economic Survey

The Quarterly Economic Survey is one of the longest running and widest scoping business surveys in the UK. It provides a useful picture of the state of business in the UK at a national, regional and local level.

Nationally, tens of thousands of businesses answer the survey, and this is the opportunity to be part of that.

We ask a mix of standing questions which give a perspective of how trade, labour, business confidence and other metrics have fluctuated. We also ask specific questions each quarter on hot topics that members are interested in, including AI, the impact of global conflicts and the Covid-19 pandemic.

From there, we present this data to local councils, combined authorities and it forms part of the picture that goes to national government with the wider British Chambers of Commerce.

On this page, you will find links to previous Quarterly Economic Surveys, to see the details of what businesses tell us.

Q4 2023 Executive Summary


Heading in the wrong direction for both sectors as firms report a downturn in sale activity. The situation is worst in the manufacturing sector where 38 per cent of firms saw a decline in sales. Order books offer little by way of comfort going forward.


Overseas sales for Yorkshire firms plummeted during Q4, particularly in service industry businesses where the rate of decline was at its sharpest since the pandemic. Order books too were in decline although by no means the same rate as sales, giving hope that the recovery in export sales seen throughout 2023 will return to normal in the coming months.


A static position for most employers. Close to 80 per cent of employers in service firms anticipate no change to their workforce in the next few weeks with 67 per cent of manufacturers reporting same situation.


After a much-improved situation during the summer and autumn, appetite for investment fell back towards the end of 2023. One glimmer of hope came in the area of staff training in service sector firms where there was a 32 per cent increase. However, investment in plant and machinery has stalled.


Despite the bleak picture reported during the fieldwork Yorkshire business remains optimistic on profits. Neither sector anticipates a loss during the start of 2024, with service sector firms in particular confident on delivering profits in the short-term.


Despite inflation falling by higher-than-expected levels during Q4 it, along with interest rates, are still posing huge problems for businesses and remain a constraint on growth. Throw in energy costs, raw materials and, in particular, pay settlements the squeeze on companies large and small continues to be unrelenting.