Bulgaria’s overall business sentiment indicator in September declined negligibly, to 24.7% from 25.1%, after slipping by 1 percentage point (pp) in August, the country’s statistical office said on Friday.

The services sector was the only one to record a decrease in business confidence, by 3.3 pp to 13.3%, while retail trade marked an increase of 1.2pp to 35.2%, the National Statistical Institute (NSI) said in a monthly business climate survey.

Meanwhile, industry and construction remained flattish month-on-month. Industry inched up to 25.2% from 25.1%, whereas construction stayed at 24.7%.

Business managers in industry, retail and services pointed to favourable expectations for the final quarter of 2023.

Although entrepreneurs in industry assessed current production activity as reduced, they had positive projections for the upcoming quarter.

In retail, forecasts for orders placed with both domestic and overseas suppliers in the next three months were optimistic. Retailers had improved expectations of the business situation of enterprises over the next six months.

In the services sector, present demand was estimated to be slightly reduced, but expectations for the next three months were favourable as well, with selling prices seen to remain unchanged, just as in retail.

As for the construction sector, managers noted a decrease of new orders inflow over the past month, to which were added worsened expectations about the construction activity over the next quarter.

“The main obstacles to the activity of the enterprises in sectors are the uncertain economic environment, shortage of labour, competition in the branch and costs of materials,” the NSI said.