Trade Barometer

Santander Trade Barometer

Confident, ambitious and ready to conquer the world

Two-thirds of the UK’s businesses are confident of growth over the next three years

65% of the UK’s businesses are confident of growth over the next three years. But those planning to begin trading internationally in the next 12 months are even more optimistic (72%).

The link between an outward-looking plan for growth and greater confidence is clear: businesses with international aspirations are more ambitious in their plans to hire new staff, develop new products and purchase new equipment.

What is the Santander Trade Barometer?

The Barometer can help shape how advisers, industry groups and policymakers support the business community in the months and years ahead.

We analysed the responses of more than 1,000 businesses with the size and ambition to engage in international trade and our findings reveal that businesses are confident about their ability to grow, particularly as they target international markets. 

However, the economic outlook, the uncertainties of Brexit and the management challenges of trading internationally remain key concerns.

The Santander Trade Barometer report provides unique insight into current business attitudes.

Concerned about Brexit but not panicking

The UK’s businesses are conscious of the potential for Brexit to cause them problems, but the immediate outlook for the economy is their most serious worry.

The likelihood of an economic slowdown in the UK is the single biggest concern for businesses, with 47% fearing a negative impact on their business over the next 12 months.

Only 41% of businesses expect Brexit to have a negative impact, down from 66% in the last Santander Trade Barometer. But views on both the economy and Brexit vary significantly by region and industry sector.

Trade Barometer Boat

Internationalisation boosts growth

Businesses selling overseas are performing strongly: 52% of UK firms with international sales saw their performance improve last year, chiefly because they acquired new clients.

Many businesses have a global focus. While 79% of businesses with international sales are selling to customers in the eurozone, North America (58%) and the Asia Pacific region (51%) are important trading partners too.

Focused on key management challenges

The need to build the right team to trade successfully in international markets is the single biggest management challenge for businesses (35%).

Challenges such as the need to maintain profit (32%) and the threat posed by competitors (24%) also remain pressing, but fewer businesses (17%) are concerned about the difficulty of accessing finance.

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