Ulster Business

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Northern Ireland private sector suffers sharpest slump in 20 years: survey

The business sector in Northern Ireland has suffered its harshest contraction on recent record - sharper than the fall felt during the global recession more than 10 years ago, a business barometer was warned.

Businesses here saw a reduction in sales and output at a rate surpassing the previous record at the height of the global financial crisis in early 2009, according to the latest purchasing managers' index (PMI) with Ulster Bank for March.

It was the harshest fall in around 20 years of the survey.

But the survey took place largely before Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a full UK-wide lockdown.

And it has been warned that "the pace of contraction will accelerate further to fresh record lows" in April.

According to the latest survey, Northern Ireland has seen the largest retraction in business output across the UK regions.

"All 12 UK regions saw steep contractions in business activity in March. Northern Ireland posted the sharpest fall, just ahead of that seen in Scotland," the survey said.

The services sector, which includes a range of areas including hospitality, saw the worst fall - posting a figure of 23.9, where 50 means no change.