The British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) yesterday said that the UK will avoid a triple dip recession and I for one believe they are right on the money. The BCC surveyed more than 7,000 companies in the UK which showed strong exports bolstered the services sector in the first three months of the year making it close to all-time highs reached in 1994. A strong performance from the services sector - which covers activities that range from retail to banking, and accounts for three-quarters of the UK economy - could result in a positive reading for first-quarter GDP, due to be published on 25 April.
The data is widely spread from all areas across the country, and is particularly pointing at service companies like us as the reason why there will be growth in the economy in the first quarter of 2013.
Without laying emphasis on the statistics and by interacting with the plumbers' network, as well as speaking daily with all sorts of trades-people, the message seems to be that that things are picking up. They are starting to see more work, both now and approaching over the horizon. At Pimlico Plumbers, we had a very solid February with sales of £1.53 million and are predicting a March result in excess of £1.6m - taking our 2013 first quarter to at least £4.76 million, which represents a 10% increase on the same period in 2012.
Small businesses have stayed in business by looking at what they offer, then looking again even harder, and always improving, to make sure that they are giving customers what they need. Small businesses can stay resilient if they are able to deliver services that customers need.
I think growth now is a product of the trading climate of last five years. Throw your stall out and hope for the best and someone will have your customers by the end of the week (and the liquidators will have your stall up for sale). Those who are left now have weathered some mighty storms, and customers are cautiously buying from a highly tuned (and by that I mean tuned by recession) selection of offerings. In our case right now, although the plumbers and heating engineers are busy enough, it's the drain men, and also the builders and carpenters who are picking up a few more jobs than 12 months ago.
With two months to go in our financial year (ends May 31st) we are tracking at 6% above where we were last year, which is something everybody at Pimlico Plumbers should be extremely proud of, and which along with the BCC's wider cross-section of figures, has me convinced there will be no triple dip in 2013.