Last reviewed 2 August 2022

A survey of over 2600 UK exporters has revealed that overseas sales growth has been effectively stagnant for more than a year, since the economy fully reopened after lockdown.

According to the quarterly Trade Confidence Outlook for the second quarter (Q2) of 2022, produced by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), the proportion of exporters reporting increased overseas sales was unchanged from Q1 at 29%, while those reporting a decrease remained at 25%.

This compares to around 40% of businesses consistently reporting increased domestic sales across the same time period in the BCC’s Quarterly Economic Survey (QES).

BCC Head of Trade Policy, William Bain, said: “The combination of supply chain disruption, soaring prices, and the impact of Brexit red tape and compliance costs has had chilling effects on exports, especially for smaller firms already scarred by the pandemic.”

Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have shown an increase in exports to the EU, he noted, driven in part by shortages caused by the war in Ukraine.

However, BCC data shows that there are serious underlying issues — which are hitting smaller manufacturing exporters the hardest.

Manufacturers trading overseas are under particular pressure, with only 39% expecting their profitability to increase in the next 12 months, compared to 48% of service sector exporters. Manufacturing exporters are also the most likely (78%) to expect to raise prices in the next year, a record high.