Research carried out by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has revealed that stockpiling by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) reached a 'record high' in the three months to April.
According to the CBI's latest SME Trends Survey, UK manufacturers 'raised stocks of raw materials and finished goods at the fastest rate in the survey's history'. The research also found that growth in output volumes slowed to its weakest in one-and-a-half years.
In regard to business confidence in the manufacturing sector, 22% of firms feel optimistic about their business situation, whilst 33% feel 'less optimistic'.
Commenting on the findings, Alpesh Paleja, Principal Economist at the CBI, said: 'SME manufacturers ramped up stockpiling over the last quarter in the face of the Westminster deadlock. Against the backdrop of fairly tepid growth, this would have been a big drag on the resources of smaller manufacturers.
'Continued uncertainty meant that some investment plans would also have been restrained. Manufacturers certainly won't want to face another cliff-edge come Autumn, so will want to see a Brexit deal finally agreed and over the line.'