Small hotels and restaurants have shown the most marked improvement in optimism since the turn of the year compared with all other small business industries, new research has revealed.
The report into optimism, by the Small Business Research Trust (SBRT) and HSBC bank, shows that 41% of hotels and restaurants expect to see increased sales, 15% increased employment and 35% an increase in investment over the coming quarter.
In the Q4 2006 survey, the sector had been expecting significant job losses so this represents a marked improvement.
It also plays well against the experience of the small hotel and restaurant sector in the first quarter of 2007 when 39% reported sales were down, 21% experienced job losses and 23% said investment was down.
Simon Wainwright, head of business banking at HSBC, said: "It is somewhat surprising that small businesses in the UK are growing in confidence, considering the increasing challenges they face from the uncertain economic climate.
"However, it is vital that small business owners continue to budget carefully and plan diligently for any future expenditure and changes in circumstances. Failure to do so could result in firms being left vulnerable if the unexpected occurs, for example, the loss of a key staff member or a downturn in the economy."
Of the 1,500 small businesses surveyed, approximately 100 are categorised as restaurants and hotels.
By Daniel Thomas