Confidence among business owners in the Leeds area has reached levels not seen before the credit crunch.
The latest Quarterly Economic Survey by Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce has found that confidence levels have reached the highest levels seen since 2007, after increasing steadily in 2012.
The survey is based on how people believe their businesses will perform in the coming 12 months compared to the previous 12 months, so reflects a growing sense of optimism about the area’s economy.
Mark Goldstone, head of business representation and policy at the chamber, said: “It fits really well with what I’m picking up from companies - everybody is saying we’re doing all right.
“It’s not restricted to a specific sector. I know we have seen some of the big headlines on the retail high streets and while it’s incredibly sad to have lost names like HMV and Jessops, some of them have been dead men walking for a while.
“Meanwhile, manufacturing has been quietly getting on, mainly driven by exports, although that has slowed down in the last couple of quarters.”
The latest survey was carried out in November and December in partnership with Leeds University Business School, using feedback from more than 600 business owners, directors and partners across the region.
Mr Goldstone said businesses which were trading with growing markets, such as the Middle East, were doing particularly well, and British products were particularly popular in those areas.
“Those that are looking internationally are finding their products are in demand. If your product sells well here, chances are it will sell well overseas too,” he added.
Although the survey showed plans to recruit had slowed, jobs were still being created, mostly by small businesses, with more than a third of companies saying they tried to recruit last quarter.
Mr Goldstone said the biggest barrier to economic growth was a lack of spending by consumers, along with worries about jobs in the public sector, which both need to improve for a return to growth.
“I think generally it would be foolish to say it’s over – but it could be a lot worse,” he added.