Confidence among British firms is at its lowest level for almost 20 years as a result of the economic conditions, research suggests.
According to Lloyds TSB Commercial's Business in Britain survey, confidence has slumped to -32%, the lowest since the survey began in 1992.
The report, based on the responses of 3,450 UK firms, charts the performance of businesses across the country and their views on prospects for the coming year.
"British businesses have had a rough ride in recent months," John Maltby, managing director at Lloyds TSB Commercial says.
"With demand on a downward spiral, it's little wonder they are feeling pressure on their finances and that confidence is at such a low ebb."
Since July last year, the number of firms reporting falling orders and sales has risen dramatically, Lloyds says. Two fifths of businesses reported declining sales in the second half of the year, while just a quarter recorded an upturn.
Similarly, two fifths of firms recorded lower orders at the end of last year, while only a fifth reported an increase.
Declining sales and orders took an inevitable toll on profits during the second half of last year. Only 15% of firms reported higher profits between July and December 2008, while 55% reported a fall.IFAonline
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