Coronavirus: NI firms’ recovery stalled in August, says survey

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Despite August’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, NI’s service sector recovery is lagging behind GB

Economic recovery in Northern Ireland stalled in August, according to an Ulster Bank survey.

Every month it asks private sector firms about staffing, exports and new orders in what is considered a reliable indictor of economic performance.

While retail and construction initially bounced back in July, all indicators deteriorated in August.

Employment levels fell for the sixth month in a row despite the government’s job retention scheme being in place.

Unemployment is expected to continue to rise when the scheme comes to an end next month.

Economic recovery appears to be taking longer in Northern Ireland than in other parts of the UK.

“Hopes of a ‘V-shaped’ recovery remain intact in other regions; but that is not the case in Northern Ireland,” said Ulster Bank’s chief economist Richard Ramsey.

“Interestingly, the devolved regions – who were more cautious in lifting lockdown restrictions – continue to lag their English counterparts,” he added.

‘Very challenging’

This survey said that despite the boost from initiatives like the government’s “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme which ran from during the month of August, Northern Ireland’s service sector recovery is lagging well behind the rest of UK.

Mr Ramsey said: “Overall, Northern Ireland’s loss of momentum in August does not look temporary.”

“The rise in the number of cases of Covid during September to date, combined with the heightened tensions surrounding Brexit, make the landscape a very challenging one,” he added.

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