The CBI service sector survey (SSS) covers private sector services provision, excluding financial services and distribution (these two sectors are covered in other CBI surveys). The results are split into two broad categories: consumer services and business and professional services.
It seeks to quantify concepts for which there is no official measure (e.g. business optimism and investment intentions). Results are published ahead of corresponding official indicators, which are closely followed by analysts and external stakeholders.
To gain a clearer understanding of how participants answer survey questions, and the issues they consider when responding, the CBI conducts answering practices surveys (APS). These enable both us and external stakeholders to gain an insight of the survey’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Participants ranked current conditions most highly when assessing trends in the volume of business over the next three months
- Business values and volumes have moved closely together over time in the SSS, where it would be expected that there would be some divergence, attributed to price inflation in the sector
- When assessing changes in competitiveness, both in domestic and foreign markets, the highest percentage of respondents (16%) measure it by products/services of greater quality
- The majority of respondents look at a comparison of optimism/pessimism at the time of answering vs three months earlier
- The proportion of total planned capital spending in a typical year appeared to be fairly distributed over the three options provided: IT, land and buildings and vehicles, plant and machinery
- A high number of respondents said that they do not revise their price lists at the same time every year. However, the breakdown was somewhat different between sub-sectors
- Most companies solely consider their own resources of space, equipment and staff (62%) in assessing whether they can increase their volume of activity.
This latest SSS APS was conducted between 16 March and 29 March 2018, with 98 responses.