The post-election rise in UK business confidence has dissipated as the coronavirus takes its toll on the global economy, according to new research.
A survey carried out by the Institute of Directors (IoD) has showed that confidence is at its lowest since September last year. Other challenges cited by UK businesses are domestic economic issues and uncertainty over the UK's trading status with the EU.
One in five members of the IoD said they thought the outbreak of the coronavirus represents a 'high or severe threat to their organisations'. A further 40% saw the threat as moderate, while just over a third said the virus poses little or no direct threat.
Commenting on the survey, Tej Parikh, Chief Economist at the IoD, said: 'The UK's directors are nothing if not resilient. Businesses large and small are already responding with agility, with many already taking sensible mitigating actions at this stage.
'Government must be at the ready to take swift action to help cash-strapped businesses bridge this challenging period.'
The coronavirus is also being blamed, along with the winter storms, for a February fall in high street sales. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) sales monitor revealed that retail sales were down by 0.4% during the month, compared with a year earlier on a like-for-like basis.