Two new surveys dash any lingering hopes Britain’s business sector may have entertained about a swift post-war recovery.

The purchasing managers’ index from the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply – a gauge of manufacturing activity – remained below the 50.0 border between growth and decline, dipping from 48.6 in April to 48.1 last month as both output and new orders fell. That said, it is still ahead of March’s wartime nadir of 46.3.

Meanwhile, a study of the service sector from the Confederation of British Industry and Grant Thornton warned of a “tortuous and protracted recovery, which will, at best, be showing some results in 2004.” Consumer services firms are struggling the most, last month reporting the biggest fall in business volumes for a year.

There may, however, be a glimmer of hope in the latest consumer sentiment report compiled by Martin Hamblin GfK for the European Commission. This found that Britons’ expectations for the future improved during May.

Although the index gauging consumers’ assessment of the past twelve months tumbled seven points from April to -4 (its lowest since November 2000), the barometer of future expectations rose 2 points to +11. Moreover, the index measuring attitudes to making major purchases in the current economy surged from +12 to +17.

Data sourced from: multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff