Business confidence lower in Q1

© CBS / Nikki van Toorn
At the start of 2019, business confidence stands at 10.6. This is almost three points down on the previous quarter. Nevertheless, it is still well above its long-term average.
A growing number of entrepreneurs are expecting a negative impact from Brexit. This is reported by Statistics Netherlands (CBS), the Dutch Chamber of Commerce (KvK), the Economic Institute for Construction and Housing (EIB), the Dutch Organisation for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MKB-Nederland) and the Dutch Employers’ Organisation (VNO-NCW) as the outcome of the latest Netherlands Business Survey (COEN), which is held among Dutch entrepreneurs in the non-financial private sector.

Business confidence is showing a downward trend for the second quarter in a row. In Q1 2019, the sentiment indicator of entrepreneurial Netherlands is still far above the average level (1.5) as measured since monitoring started in 2008. Business confidence dropped to its lowest level (-29.7) in Q2 2009, while the highest level was reached in Q1 2018: 18.1.

Business confidence in the Netherlands
yearQuarterBusiness confidence
2008Q4-7
2009Q1-24.3
Q2-29.7
Q3-23.5
Q4-13.5
2010Q1-7.1
Q20.5
Q33.4
Q46.1
2011Q17.2
Q210.1
Q33.2
Q4-4.4
2012Q1-6.3
Q2-6.8
Q3-8.6
Q4-9.2
2013Q1-10.7
Q2-11.7
Q3-8.7
Q4-2.7
2014Q11.6
Q24.7
Q32.9
Q44.9
2015Q15.6
Q25.4
Q38.7
Q47.4
2016Q19.3
Q28.8
Q37.9
Q49.2
2017Q114.7
Q215.5
Q315.9
Q413.4
2018Q118.1
Q214.2
Q315
Q413.4
2019Q110.6
Source: CBS, EIB, KVK, MKB-Nederland, VNO-NCW
*the horizontal line indicates the long-term average

Highest confidence in the construction sector

Among all industries, construction has the highest level of business confidence level for the tenth quarter in a row: 31.2. Business confidence is also above average in business services and wholesale trade.
In most industries, business confidence is lower in Q1 2019 compared to Q4 2018. Entrepreneurs in car trade and repairs have a negative outlook at the beginning of 2019. Their confidence has declined from 2.7 in Q4 2018 to -5.1 in Q1 2019.

Business confidence, by industry
 Q1 2019 Q4 2018
Non-financial private sector10.613.4
Construction31.233.3
Business services17.116.4
Wholesale and commission trade15.318.4
Information and communication13.716.4
Accommodation and food services11.911.2
Manufacturing5.85.9
Retail trade (excl. cars)4.912.6
Mining and quarrying4.4-14.4
Real estate, renting and business activities3.51
Transport and storage-0.28
Car trade and repairs-5.12.7
Source: CBS, EIB, KVK, MKB-Nederland, VNO-NCW

Growing number of companies expecting problems due to Brexit

An increasing proportion of thenon-financial private sector is foreseeing negative consequences of Brexit for Q1 2019. Nearly 1 out of 4 companies expect their business operations to be hurt by Brexit. According to the entrepreneurs, the freedom of movement of goods and services in particular will be affected (as indicated by 11.5 percent). Eleven percent of entrepreneurs expect a lower volume of trade with the United Kingdom in Q1 relative to the previous quarter. Their turnover developments in Q1 are expected to bear the negative consequences of Brexit as well. Entrepreneurs in agriculture and manufacturing are relatively most likely to expect Brexit to have a negative impact.

Companies expecting Brexit will hurt operations in terms of limited freedom of movement goods and services (%)
JaarKwartaalCompanies
2017Q26.8
Q37.4
Q45.9
2018Q16.3
Q25.6
Q36.8
Q48.5
2019Q111.5
Source: CBS, EIB, KVK, MKB-Nederland, VNO-NCW

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