NatWest UK regional PMI report for Oct 2023

London remains main bright spot as business activity falls in most areas in October.

Key findings

  • Output contracts in nine of out 12 monitored regions and nations
  • Local labour markets under pressure but showing signs of resilience
  • Input cost inflation generally slows


Most areas of the UK saw a fall in business activity in October amid broad weakness in demand, according to the latest NatWest Regional PMI® survey. Employment also declined in the majority of cases, albeit generally more slowly than in September. More often than not, business costs rose at a slower rate in October. The PMI Business Activity Index is the first fact-based indicator of regional economic health published each month, tracking the monthly change in the output of goods and services across the private sector. A reading above 50 signals growth, and the further above the 50 level the faster the expansion signalled. London remained the UK's top-performing region for output growth in October, its business activity index coming in at 53.8. It was one of just three areas (out of 12 monitored) where output rose during the month, alongside the West Midlands (50.7) and South West (50.1). Firms in the North East (43.5) recorded the most marked decline in business activity, followed by those in Wales (45.0)


Sebastian Burnside, NatWest Chief Economist, commented:

"Most regional economies remained under pressure at the start of the fourth quarter, with activity falling in nine of the 12 monitored areas. 

"London remains the main bright spot, having seen activity not only grow in October, but also at a solid rate. Businesses in the capital are reporting robust customer demand, which contrasts with the situation in almost every other area. 

"There has been greater caution around hiring in recent months as businesses contend with lower activity and rising costs, and we saw further evidence of this in October as employment once again fell across the majority of areas. However, the latest results did at least point to some signs of resilience across local labour markets, with rates of job shedding generally easing and three regions even recording renewed rises in employment.       

"Whilst business costs generally rose more slowly in October, this didn't always translate into slower increases in prices charged for goods and services as rates of inflation ticked up in half of cases. There is some stickiness in inflationary pressures, driven by ongoing wage increases and the recent resurgence in fuel prices."


Please see the regional reports in full:


UK National (PDF, 281KB)

North East (PDF, 371KB)

North West (PDF, 423KB)

Yorkshire and the Humber (PDF, 389KB)

East Midlands (PDF, 403KB)

West Midlands (PDF, 380KB)

East of England (PDF, 384KB)

London (PDF, 351KB)

South East (PDF, 386KB)

South West (PDF, 385KB)

Scotland (PDF, 361KB)

Wales (PDF, 380KB)

Choose the content you want

Get business inspiration and practical tips straight to your inbox 

This material is published by NatWest Group plc (“NatWest Group”), for information purposes only and should not be regarded as providing any specific advice. Recipients should make their own independent evaluation of this information and no action should be taken, solely relying on it. This material should not be reproduced or disclosed without our consent. It is not intended for distribution in any jurisdiction in which this would be prohibited. Whilst this information is believed to be reliable, it has not been independently verified by NatWest Group and NatWest Group makes no representation or warranty (express or implied) of any kind, as regards the accuracy or completeness of this information, nor does it accept any responsibility or liability for any loss or damage arising in any way from any use made of or reliance placed on, this information. Unless otherwise stated, any views, forecasts, or estimates are solely those of NatWest Group, as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Copyright © NatWest Group. All rights reserved.

scroll to top