Business confidence remains low across Greater Manchester, even as lockdown restrictions begin to be lifted.

The Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce’s sixth weekly Business Monitor survey highlighted the continued slump for businesses during the coronavirus.

The survey revealed another decrease in sales for more than half of businesses.

The survey was conducted between May 4 and May 15, with results broken down for the “GM North” region which includes Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale and Wigan.

Results showed that there has been a stabilisation in customer demand, albeit it is still very low due to the virus.

More firms are reporting an increase in sales; however, there are many more still reporting decreases or no improvements ­— although there was stabilisation in the first two weeks of May.

The furlough scheme has also helped businesses in the GM North region hold onto staff during the crisis, keeping these statistics fairly steady in May.

Businesses in the GM North region are reporting the lowest levels of confidence during the lockdown, compared to Manchester Central and South.

50 per cent of businesses in GM North said they were “not at all confident” of maintaining revenues and profit in the coming weeks.

Businesses in this region reported their highest concerns as the lack of revenue during this period, cash management and lack of remote working capability.

This survey also revealed that the use of the job retention scheme was also highest in the GM North region compared to the rest of GM, with 65 per cent of businesses saying they were using it.

Subrahmaniam Krishnan-Harihara, Head of Research at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: “The results of the survey show that whilst customer demand is no longer in the free fall that we saw in the first few weeks of the crisis, businesses reporting increases in demand remain at record low levels.

“This has all the hallmarks of some form of stabilisation but the overall levels are critically low and will need a huge boost to get back on track.”