Business Conditions Survey

April 2023

 NABE Survey Panel Remains Optimistic Regarding Sales Despite a Slowing Economy


The April 2023 NABE Business Conditions Survey report presents the responses of 55 NABE members to a survey conducted April 4-12, 2022, on business conditions in their firms or industries, and reflects first-quarter 2023 results and the near-term outlook.

COMMENTS: “Results of the April 2023 NABE Business Conditions Survey suggest an environment of rising sales and declining profits as rising materials costs and wages continue to bite,” said NABE President Julia Coronado, founder and president, MacroPolicy Perspectives LLC. “The U.S. economy is slowing down as fewer panelists report rising employment and capital spending.”

“The panel’s overall view is that inflation is continuing to ease,” added NABE Business Conditions Survey Chair Carlos Herrera, chief economist, Coca-Cola North America.“Forty percent of respondents report that prices charged are rising—down from 46% who held this view in the January 2023 survey and 49% from a year ago. However, the panel believes that there is more work to be done against inflation as the share of panelists expecting prices to rise in the next 3 months moved higher.”



  • Sales growth in the first quarter of 2023 improved from the previous quarter. The Net Rising Index (NRI) for sales—the percentage of panelists reporting rising sales minus the percentage reporting falling sales—in the first quarter of 2023 (Q1 2023) is 30, significantly higher than the reading of 8 in the January 2023 survey. The forward-looking NRI also rose, to 25 from 5 in the January survey, indicating growing expectations for sales over the next quarter.
  • Profit margins remain under pressure, registering an NRI of -8 for Q1 2023, as more panelists report falling profits, 29%, than rising profits, 22%. This is a significant improvement from the NRI of -25 NRI in the fourth quarter of 2022 (Q4 2022). The outlook for profit margins over the next three months is similar as in the January survey, with a majority of respondents (58%) not expecting any changes.
  • The share of respondents reporting rising wages over the past three months held steady at 63% for a third
    consecutive survey.
    No respondents report falling wages over the past three months, and none expect wages to fall over the next three months.
  • The NRI for employment dropped to zero in the April survey. This is the lowest reading since the July and October 2020 surveys when the NRIs were negative. Historically, a negative NRI for employment is associated with an economic downturn.
  • The views of panelists are nearly evenly split on the probability that the U.S. economy will enter a recession in the next 12 months: 44% indicate a >50% probability, while 53% suggest a ≤50% probability.
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