We may have officially avoided falling into recession, but it’s still going to be a challenging year for lots of local businesses.

That was the message from Shropshire Chamber of Commerce, responding to GDP figures from the Office for National Statistics covering the fourth quarter of 2022.

Although the UK avoided a technical recession – two consecutive quarters of negative growth – Shropshire Chamber deputy chief executive Ruth Ross said there were still some ‘worrying trends’.

The latest national data showed production output fell by 0.2% in final three months of 2022, and monthly GDP fell by 0.5% in December.  

Ruth said: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of the Shropshire economy, and they have seen three years of economic shocks, including lockdowns, global supply chain crises, Brexit, and soaring energy costs.  

“We may not officially be in recession, but many small firms in the county have seen no improvements to sales, exports, or investment - and our retailers and hospitality firms remain among the worst affected.

“But we do have to remember that there are also Shropshire businesses with longer order books than ever – so there are positive stories too, despite the pressures they are under. We are a resilient and agile county.”

Ruth said there was also some relief ahead in falling energy prices and inflation potentially peaking at lower levels than initially feared.

But she warned that Shropshire businesses still faced other headwinds, including continuing strike action and further uncertainty around our trading relationship with Europe.

“As the British Chambers of Commerce says, businesses will need to see a long-term plan for growth and concrete action in the upcoming Budget, including plans on infrastructure, tax, skills, and trade.”