BUSINESS confidence in Southampton plunged even further last month, research has suggested.

The city is “feeling the full impact” of the tourism industry’s lockdown and the loss of cruise ships.

The latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking shows confidence in Southampton and the south east plummeting to a reading of minus 45 per cent, down six points on April.

The figure is produced by weighing the percentage of firms reporting a positive outlook for their business against the percentage reporting a negative outlook.

Phil Kirk, regional director for the South East at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “It remains a difficult time for companies across the region, and Southampton is feeling the full impact of the tourism industry’s closure.

“Businesses continue to lose out of the £2 million that the Port of Southampton estimates each cruise ship call brings to the local economy.”

Confidence stood at minus 45 per cent when businesses were asked for their views of the economy overall.

The majority of firms reported a negative impact on their business in May, although the picture had improved since April.

Seventy-two per cent had seen demand for their products or services fall in May, but this was down seven points on the month before. Eight per cent saw a rise in demand, up one point.

Thirty-nine per cent of firms were operating at less than half capacity, while 16 per cent said they were not operating at all.

Of the 71 per cent of businesses reporting disruption to their supply chain during May, 20 per cent expected the situation to improve within three months, while five per cent expected it would take more than 12 months to return to normal levels.

The lowest confidence reading across the UK was in the south west, where the net figure stood at minus 51 per cent, compared with minus 35 per cent the month before.

Hann-Ju Ho, senior economist for Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Despite the results partly capturing the period since the government’s announcement of an initial easing of restrictions, trading conditions remain difficult for most firms. Nevertheless, a further relaxation of constraints will enable more businesses to resume their activities.”

The survey was carried out from May 1-18.