imageEconomy16 hours ago (Mar 28, 2020 09:05PM ET)

(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People look out onto the Canary Wharf district as they walk through Greenwich Park in London

LONDON (Reuters) – British companies in key sectors were already bracing for the biggest hit to business since 2009 even before last week’s shutdown of the much of the economy as the government moved to slow the spread of coronavirus, an employers’ group said.

Surveys conducted in the first half of March showed consumer services firms, such as restaurants, bars and cinemas, were the most pessimistic, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said on Sunday.

A measure of their expectations for business volumes in the next three months showed a balance of -47%.

The balance for manufacturers stood at -20% while the retail sector’s sales expectations fell to -31%, it said.

“Expectations of a sharp fall in activity give some sign of what is to come,” Alpesh Paleja, the CBI’s lead economist, said.

“With strict social distancing measures still to be reflected in our data, the picture is only likely to deteriorate from here.”

On the other hand, business and professional services firms expected growth in the coming quarter.

The CBI data is compiled from surveys of manufacturing and retail sectors, which it publishes separately, and a gauge of the services sector.

The balances represent the difference in percentage points between the share of firms answering that output is, or is likely to be, up or down.

UK companies were worried about outlook even before lockdown: CBI

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.