THE country may have officially slipped back into recession but company bosses in Bristol say it is still business as usual on the coal face of the economy.
Official figures published on Wednesday revealed that the economy has shrunk for the second quarter running meaning that the country has suffered its first double dip recession since the 1970s.
But business leaders in Bristol are refusing to be downbeat and have insisted that there are still plenty of reasons to remain optimistic.
Guy Kingston, who is a consultant and chairman of the Bristol branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, summed up the mood.
He said: "As far as small and medium sized businesses are considered these figures are all a bit academic. It might give the chattering classes in London something to talk about but little has changed on the coal face.
"We have probably been in a recession for the last four years but the fact is we just have to get on with the job of making a living."
He added: "What is strange is that these new figures have come out at a time when there are signs of improvement. From my point of view there has been an improvement in the last couple of months and I have personally seen an increase in the number of inquiries.
"Things are still difficult and the most important thing is not to let these new figures knock us off the course of recovery."
Phil Smith, the head of Bristol's chamber of commerce, added: "These figures are at odds with the experiences of many of our Chamber of Commerce members, who continue to operate with guarded optimism.
"Whilst the statistics may say we're in a technical recession, it's important that we do not talk ourselves into defeat.
"Obviously there is a psychological barrier, however given the context of weak growth over the past few years, this announcement doesn't change much for business in reality."
Pickerings Lifts, which is based in Bristol, also believes that there may be some light on the horizon.
Customer support manager Andy Lyon said: "Forecasts for the coming months are gloomy but that is not surprising. Public spending cuts have had a impact on the industry and further cuts will only contribute to further decline.
"However, our company has already seen record results in January and February and we hope to sustain these levels for the rest of the year.
"We have seen a significant rise in queries regarding long-term spends, with many clients already considering lift budgets for the forthcoming financial year. As a result of this, we have discovered that budget allocations have increased compared to last year, indicating a rise in overall confidence in market growth over the coming months."
Gerry Jones, Bristol chairman of the Institute of Directors, said: "It is disappointing to see the UK drop back into recession.
"However, we must not let the news damage confidence.
"The South West has some fantastic businesses that can create the growth our local economy needs."
The Prime Minister said the 0.2 per cent decline in the economy was "very, very disappointing" but insisted there will be no change to the Government's policies of spending cuts.
But Labour leader Ed Miliband told the House of Commons that the figures were proof that the Government's plan has failed, describing the downturn as "a recession made by the Prime Minister and the Chancellor in Downing Street".
PUBLICATION: Bristol Evening Post - 26 April 2012