Growth sustained and activity up for third consecutive month

Growth sustained and activity up for third consecutive month

There was sustained growth in the Northern Ireland private sector, with activity up for the third month running, according to the latest PMI report from Ulster Bank.

The April data, produced for Ulster Bank by S&P Global, showed that employment continued to rise markedly, with retailers leading the way in the recruitment drive.

Rates of both input cost and output price inflation softened again and suppliers’ delivery times shortened.

Northern Ireland’s private sector started the second quarter in the same way it ended the first, with businesses in expansion mode. Output, orders and employment all increased in April albeit the pace of growth eased relative to March.

‘Retailers led the way in the recruitment drive’

The trend of easing inflationary pressures continued last month with input costs rising at the weakest pace in almost two and a half years. Despite robust rates of wage inflation, all four sectors surveyed – retail, services, manufacturing and construction – continued to increase their staffing levels in April.

Retailers led the way in the recruitment drive, and April’s survey also revealed that firms saw supplier delivery times shorten for the first time since the question was introduced back in March 2021.

Overall, the steady improvement in the private sector is in stark contrast with the mounting difficulties within the public sector.

Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey said: “While higher wages and energy prices continued to push up input costs in April, the rate of inflation softened for the seventh consecutive month.

“For the first time since the question on suppliers’ delivery times was added to the survey in March 2021, vendor performance improved in April. Companies remained optimistic that output will continue to rise over the coming year, with confidence supported by improvements in new orders,” he added.