Marks&Spencer shoppers

Confidence is returning to retail and wholesale, a new report has suggested

Business confidence in retail and wholesale has increased sharply over the past quarter, according to the ICAEW/Grant Thornton UK Business Confidence Monitor.

The BCM Confidence Index for retail and wholesale stands at 22.4 – up from 9.3 in the second quarter of the year.

The Index for UK business as a whole has also improved. It now stands at 24 – its highest level since the second quarter of 2010.

“From the discussions we’ve been having with grocers and food and drinks manufacturing and wholesale companies up and down the country, the survey results are definitely reflecting the slightly more positive mood starting to come from people in the sector,” said Trefor Griffith, Grant Thornton’s head of food and beverage.

“Whilst I’m sure some of the optimism can be attributed to the fact we’ve been having the best summer in years, it is also influenced by a small increase in deal activity in the sector and the expectation of much more to come, as well as the continued interest in UK businesses from abroad.”

A positive score in the BCM indicates that respondents are more confident about the prospects for their business in the coming year than the previous year. A negative number means they are less confident.