Turnover in the Dutch business services sector was lower in the first quarter of 2013 than in the previous year. The decrease in turnover was smaller than in the previous quarter. Businesses in this sector remain pessimistic: more of them were negative about the economic climate in the first quarter than in previous quarters. Most of them are also pessimistic about the second quarter of 2013. On balance, however, most businesses expect turnover to rise.
Turnover down in the first quarter
In the first quarter of 2013 turnover in business services fell by 0.6 percent. The decrease in turnover was smaller than in the last quarter of 2012. After positive turnover developments in the first three quarters of 2012, that year ended with a decrease in turnover of 1 percent in the fourth quarter.
Risers and fallers in business services
Not all business services saw turnover decrease in this quarter. For some sectors, such as travel agencies, the cleaning branch and management and business consultancies, turnover was higher than twelve months previously. With a fall in turnover of 20 percent, architects again had the poorest results. For the first time in three years, legal services also experienced a fall in turnover: by 4 percent in the first quarter. For 2012 as a whole, their turnover rose by 2 percent.
Year-on-year turnover changes in business services (SBI section M-N)
Worsening economic climate and workforce cuts
The Business Sentiment Survey shows that slightly more business services firms felt that the economic climate had deteriorated compared to the previous quarter: on balance, one quarter of businesses reported this over the first quarter of 2013. This was the fourth quarter in a row that they experienced a deterioration in the economic climate.
A net one-fifth of businesses in this sector reduced their workforce; this is fewer than in the previous quarter.
Businesses were also extremely negative about their order position in the first quarter: on balance 29 percent reported that they considered their order position as (too) low. They have been continuously very negative about their order position for some time now.
Developments and opinions in business services (SBI section M-N)
Turnover expected to rise
Dutch business services firms are less pessimistic about the second quarter of 2013. Fewer expect a further deterioration of the economic climate, and on balance, turnover expectations are even positive: one in six businesses expect turnover to rise. With regards to future price increases positive and negative opinions are almost in balance.
Expectations about employment are predominantly negative, although less so for the second than for the previous quarter. On balance, 10 percent of businesses foresee a drop in employment.
More figures on the theme page of Financial and business services.