The accelerated pace of COVID-19 vaccination programmes is gradually subsiding the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Verdict has been conducting a poll to study the change in business optimism over time during COVID-19 as reflected by the views of companies on their future growth prospects amid the pandemic.

Analysis of the poll responses recorded in March shows that optimism regarding future growth prospects has improved to 63% in March from 58% in February.

While the percentage of respondents who were optimistic about growth prospects declined by five percentage points from 21% in February to 16% in March 2021, the percentage of respondents who were very optimistic increased from 37% in February to 47% in March 2021.

Furthermore, the percentage of respondents who were pessimistic during March declined by one percentage point from 10% in February to 9% in March 2021. On the contrary, those very pessimistic increased from 15% in February to 20% in March 2021.

The percentage of respondents who were neutral was 8% during the month, compared to 17% in February.

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Business optimism

The analysis is based on 3,834 responses received from the readers of Verdict network sites between 01 March and 31 March 2021.

Global COVID-19 vaccination programmes improve positivity around economic recovery

The COVID-19 vaccination drives and gradual reopening of the economy have improved business confidence, albeit modestly. Fuel demand recovery and economic stimulus packages announced by governments are supporting the energy and mining industries.

The impact of COVID-19 on the tourism and hospitality sector, however, remains unprecedented. International tourism was expected to decline by more than 70% in 2020, tracing a three-decade low, according to the World Tourism Organization, a United Nation’s specialised agency.  Although the sector is expected to rebound in 2021, it may take between two and a half years and four years to return to pre-pandemic levels.

Business confidence has returned to positive territory in the UK in Q1 2021 despite the increase in the risk of new and more virulent coronavirus strains, thanks to increased vaccine roll out, according to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales’ (ICAEW) Business Confidence Monitor.