Business climate: burst of optimism in trade, depression in industry

The business climate remained almost stable in August, according to data published this Thursday morning by INSEE. The indicator calculated by public statisticians to report the pulse of business leaders stands at 103.4 points, after reaching 102.8 in July.

But not everyone is in the same boat, this stability masking very different realities depending on the sector. Thus, the relative burst of optimism among business leaders in trade and construction contrasts with the deterioration in industrial morale.

Towards prices at their highest since 1991 in the retail trade

In fact, despite the rise in inflation and fears for purchasing power, it is clear that retail trade remains, for the time being, optimistic, with a synthetic indicator which jumped 9 points. “Retailers’ opinion on the business outlook for the next three months is improving: the balance relating to the sector’s general business outlook is rebounding and stands just below its average level. The balance of opinion on ordering intentions is recovering but remains below its own”, details INSEE.

This burst of optimism could however be fragile because it “results mainly from the increase in the balance relating to the planned workforce”, perhaps a sign that certain recruitment difficulties are fading, and “to a lesser extent, from the rebound in the balances on the recent evolution of sales and workforce”.

Because at the same time, if the traders questioned note a strong rebound in their past sales, their anticipations on the planned sales “fall back slightly”. And, bad news for consumers, “the balance of opinion relating to expected prices is increasing and is back to its highest level since the start of the series in 1991”.

Industry burdened by supply and recruitment difficulties

By contrast, in the industry, morale is far from rosy . The business climate there is “deteriorating again” and, even if it remains above its long-term average, it is continuing its tenth consecutive month of decline. In question: order books which are deteriorating for the second consecutive month, but also the numerous constraints which continue to limit activity.

“The share of companies declaring supply difficulties was almost stable in August 2022, at a level that remains very high (44%)”, explains INSEE. While the proportion of companies “declaring themselves limited in their production by a lack of staff is stable, at its highest level (26%)” since 1991, the year from which INSEE began to compile data.

In addition, the proportion of companies declaring that they encounter obstacles to production due to supply problems alone reaches 53%. Again, its highest level since the series exists.

In services, the indicator goes from 107 to 106, the Institute judging that the situation is “virtually stable”, while the “balances of opinion on the general outlook for activity are maintained”. The building, meanwhile, continues to enjoy an exceptional level, the indicator which had fallen slightly to 113 in July rising to 114 in August, as in May and June. While there are fewer business leaders to face supply difficulties, they are still one in two to declare “facing difficulties due to a lack of personnel. »

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