Spring 2008 'tough on small business', according to ISM survey

The results of an ISME survey have confirm that the second three months of 2008 have proven to be particularly difficult for the small business sector.

"The figures are the most negative seen in the sector in the last 20 years and are as a result of a significant reduction in sales in the last quarter and the current reduced order books.

"Added to this sales downturn are the increased costs being experienced, particularly in transport and energy, further squeezing the sector. Major concerns are also being expressed with the current Economic Uncertainty as perceived by SME owner/managers.

"These facts are reflected in SME business confidence, which continues to plummet, with almost two thirds (65%) of respondents less optimistic about future prospects than they were 12 months ago. This compares with 47% less confident in the previous quarter and 28% less confident this time last year. A paltry 12% are more optimistic.

"The survey, which attracted a response from over 700 companies, confirmed that there has been a major downturn over the last number of months, with many companies reporting serious reductions in sales, orders, investment and employment."

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