Small business confidence in the UK improved slightly in Q3 2023, although challenges persist, according to the latest Small Business Index from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

The headline confidence reading in Q3 stood at -8.0 points, an improvement from the -14.2 points recorded in the previous quarter but still below the -2.8 points measured in Q1.

The decline in confidence over the past six quarters can be attributed to factors such as rising inflation and the energy crisis.

The hospitality sector exhibited the lowest confidence level, recording -31.1 points for accommodation and food services. Retail and wholesale followed closely with -22.8 points, while the construction, manufacturing, and information and communication sectors also reported negative confidence.

The only sector with a positive confidence reading was professional, scientific and technical services, at 6.9 points.

According to the FSB, the low business confidence in the hospitality and retail sectors underscores the need for additional support.

Martin McTague, FSB’s national chair, said:

“After the economic turmoil wrought by the cost of doing business crisis over the past year and a half, our latest Small Business Index shows signs of stabilisation in small firms’ performance.

“The improvement in the overall confidence measure since Q2 is a good start, but we really want to see it firmly back in positive territory, rather than eight points below zero, as it is currently.”