According to a quarterly Business Barometer survey by the Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA), companies selling commercial kitchen and serving equipment feel business will be tough in the next 12 months.
Some 40% of businesses said they were nervous or pessimistic about their turnover in the next year, an increase of 67% on the number who said the same in the last quarter of 2017.
CESA chairman Glenn Roberts said the industry felt optimistic about the economy going into 2018, but this had “changed significantly” after the first quarter.
Almost 50% of respondents think the economy will not do so well in the next year, compared to just over 20% when quizzed on the same topic in the last quarter of 2017.
The survey reported a change in priorities, with reduced consumer demand listed as the number one issue respondents were most concerned about.
Companies said price increases and inflation were the most pressing issues at the end of the 2017.
Uncertainty remains a fear
One thing that has remained the same is businesses reporting uncertainty about the UK’s role in Europe – still at number two as a big worry.
When asked their priorities for the UK’s negotiations over leaving the EU, respondents were most concerned about the exemption from the Working Time Directive, the health and safety legislation protecting working hours within the EU.
Second on the list of Brexit anxieties was the reduction of the UK’s payment to the EU budget.
Other priorities included standards, access to skilled workers, free movement of people and access to the single market.
'Not all doom and gloom'
Roberts added: “It’s not all doom and gloom but it’s certainly a holding pattern. For example, while fewer companies expect orders from the UK and overseas markets to increase, more expect them to remain the same.
“The same is true of staff numbers, capital investment and research and development. We’re not going backwards, but we’re certainly slowing down.”