In the fourth quarter of 2012 turnover in the Dutch business services sector was lower than a year earlier. This meant that after three quarters of turnover growth, the fourth quarter of 2012 saw a reversal. The mood among the entrepreneurs is bleak. More entrepreneurs were negative about the economic climate in the fourth quarter. Many were also pessimistic about the first quarter of 2013. They expect the economic climate to deteriorate and turnover to fall.
Turnover down in the fourth quarter
In the fourth quarter of 2012 turnover in business services fell by 0.9 percent, exceeding the decrease in the fourth quarter of 2011. That year also ended with a decrease in turnover. Because the first three quarters of 2012 showed positive turnover developments, the whole of 2012 shows a 0.6 percent rise in turnover. The turnover increase in business services for 2011 as a whole was 1.4 percent.
Architects face largest drop in turnover
Developments in the turnover of business services were unevenly spread in the fourth quarter of 2012. Architects did worst of all, with a turnover decrease of over 22 percent. Advertising did second worst, with an 8.8 percent drop in turnover on the previous year. However, service providers in inspection and testing and travel agencies realised high growth rates. The online services in particular saw to it that the travel sector realised a 13.4 percent rise in turnover, the largest of all in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Year-on-year turnover changes
Worsening economic climate and cuts in the workforce
The Business Sentiment Survey shows that slightly more entrepreneurs in business services felt that the economic climate had worsened than in the previous quarter. On balance 22 percent of the entrepreneurs experienced a worsening of the economic climate in the fourth quarter of 2012. A quarter of the entrepreneurs in business services cut their workforce, on balance. This is much worse than in the previous quarter when on balance 19 percent cut their workforce. The entrepreneurs were also negative about their order position in the fourth quarter, on balance. They have been very negative about this all year.
Developments and opinions
Turnover dip expected despite higher prices
Dutch entrepreneurs in de business services are predominantly pessimistic about the first quarter of 2013. On balance, 15 percent sees a further deterioration of the economic climate. The expectations about employment are slightly less negative than in the previous quarter. On balance 15 percent see a drop in employment, whereas 20 percent of the entrepreneurs foresaw a drop in employment in the previous quarter.
Most entrepreneurs in de business services also have negative expectations about their turnover despite higher selling prices. On balance no fewer than a quarter of the entrepreneurs expect to raise their prices. Raising rates in the first quarter is usual in the business services sector.
More figures on the theme page of Financial and business services.