NatWest UK regional PMI report for December 2023

Over half of UK regions see business activity rise in December, with London still out in front

Key findings

  • Seven out of 12 regions and nations end 2023 in growth territory
  • Decline in employment led by Wales
  • Rates of input and output price inflation quicken in most cases


However, amid a wages-driven increase in costs and diminishing backlogs of work, labour market conditions were found to have generally weakened.           

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. 

Seven of the 12 monitored regions and nations recorded higher business activity in December, the most since last June. Growth was once again led by London (index at 58.2), where output rose sharply during the month. At the other end of the scale, the North East (44.5) recorded the most marked fall in output, followed by Wales (48.0).

* PMI survey coverage in Northern Ireland includes construction and retail, as well as manufacturing and services


Sebastian Burnside, NatWest Chief Economist, commented:

"Many regions ended 2023 on a positive note, after a rollercoaster year in which interest rates reached their highest for well over a decade and wage growth pushed new heights. 

"Seven out of the 12 monitored regions recorded headline PMI readings above the 50 no-change level in December, supported by generally improved trends in new business. That said, with the exception of London, which was the standout performer for most of last year and has enjoyed a recent resurgence in activity, growth was modest at best and expected to continue in this vein in 2024.  

"Labour market conditions continued to cool across most parts of the UK in December, reflecting the recent soft patch in demand and continued pressure on business costs from rising wages. For the most part, however, employment continues to fall only modestly.

"Input costs have started rising more quickly across most regions in recent months, which has in turn prompted businesses to charge more for goods and services. The rates of input and output price inflation remain a far cry from the highs over the past two years, but the fact they have risen points to a degree of stickiness in price pressures."


Please see the regional reports in full:


UK National (PDF, 1.25MB)

North East (PDF, 3.3MB)

North West (PDF, 2.9MB)

Yorkshire and the Humber (PDF, 3.4MB)

East Midlands (PDF, 1.2MB)

West Midlands (PDF, 1.1MB)

East of England (PDF, 3.1MB)

London (PDF, 1.1MB)

South East (PDF, 1.2MB)

South West (PDF, 1.0MB)

Scotland (PDF, 1.0MB)

Wales (PDF, 1.1MB)

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