Growing business confidence

19/11/2014 15:00
  • Business confidence reaches highest level in more than three years
  • Prospects for 2015: higher turnovers, exports and investments, but no employment growth
  • Growing confidence in most sectors

At the beginning of the fourth quarter, business confidence, the indicator reflecting the mood in the Dutch private sector was higher than in the third quarter. The mood has been positive during the past twelve months and the indicator has reached the highest level in more than three years. With respect to 2015, the general mood is also positive: the private sector anticipates higher turnovers, exports and investments, but no employment growth, as Statistics Netherlands (CBS), the European Investment Bank (EIB), The Dutch Chamber of Commerce (KvK), the Dutch Organisation for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MKB Nederland) and the Dutch Employers’ Organisation (VNO-NCW) announced today.

Optimism prevails for 2015

The general mood in the private sector is positive with respect to 2015. More than one third of businesses anticipate turnover growth in 2015 relative to 2014. Only one in ten anticipate turnover decline. On balance, nearly one quarter of businesses expect turnover to grow. The general mood in the private sector is much more positive than in 2014 and 2013. Turnover generated from Dutch exports is believed to increase in 2015; on balance, 18 percent of exporters think turnover generated on the foreign market will grow.

The mood among business operators in the private sector with respect to future investments is also more positive than in the preceding years; 20 percent expect investments to grow in 2015 relative to 2014 and 15 percent expect investments to decrease. A vast majority (65 percent) think that investments will be at the same level in 2015. In recent years, they were pessimistic about the investment climate.

The attitude towards employment in 2015 is cautious. The number of businesses who think they will have to recruit staff is marginally smaller than those who expect staff reductions, so the situation on the labour market is not expected to improve substantially, although the number of businesses who think in terms of staff cuts is significantly lower than in previous years.

Growing confidence in most sectors

Business confidence improved across nearly all sectors, notably in the construction sector, after a dip in the preceding quarter. Although output realised by the construction sector shrank in the second and third quarter, there are also signs of improvement. The number of building permits is growing and there is more activity on the housing market. Although still negative, confidence has grown substantially compared to the preceding years.
The transport sector was also distinctly more positive than in the previous quarter. Optimism prevailed regarding future turnover results and the economic climate in the third quarter and higher business confidence was also apparent at the beginning of the fourth quarter. 

The mood among manufacturers is also more positive. Statistics Netherlands announced earlier that producer confidence in manufacturing industry had improved in October to reach the highest level in more than three years. The overall mood in the retail sector and the sector hotels and restaurants has also improved; in the sector wholesale trade, the level of confidence remained invariably high.