MORE than 1,500 businesses across Bournemouth are in “significant” financial distress, research suggests.

Property and construction were the sectors where the most businesses had run into trouble, according to insolvency firm Begbies Traynor.

Media firms, bars and restaurants saw an improvement.

Begbies Traynor found a five per cent year-on-year increase in the number of struggling businesses in Bournemouth, to 1,561.

Its Red Flag Alert report – which monitors the financial health of UK companies – reveals that nationally, 484,000 UK businesses were in significant financial distress in the first quarter of 2019. The figures raise concerns that the UK could suffer a broader economic slowdown during 2019.

Companies involved in buying, selling and letting property took much of the hit, with a 16 per cent rise in struggling firms compared with the same period last year.

In Bournemouth, there was a 21 per cent increase in property firms in significant financial distress, while the figure for construction rose four per cent.

Julie Palmer, regional managing partner at Begbies Traynor, said: “Many businesses in Bournemouth are in limbo and are deferring major investment decisions. This, combined with consumers holding back on big ticket purchases, has resulted in increasing significant distress across many sectors.

“This trend is reflected in our latest Red Flag research, which clearly shows both business and consumers have taken a cautious approach and limited their exposure.

“Worryingly, the data also shows that this economic malaise appears to be indiscriminate across multiple sectors, so needs to be stopped in its tracks by a combination of political certainty and a commitment to support UK business – particularly to SMEs which are the ‘engine room’ of the UK economy.”