Some 38 per cent of 242 firms in the South Yorkshire Quarterly Economic Survey said sales rose between April and June, compared to the first quarter of 2021.
Some 70 per cent believe turnover is likely to improve, up 11 per cent over the same period.
Export sales were up 17 per cent on the previous quarter but continue to be weaker than before the pandemic.
And a fifth of companies, 19 per cent, have taken on staff, compared to 12 per cent which have lost workers.
Only five per cent expect to cut their workforces in the next three months – nearly equal to the pre-pandemic figure of four per cent.
In a joint statement by the CEOs of Doncaster, Sheffield and Barnsley & Rotherham Chambers of Commerce, they said: “We welcome the marked improvement in business outcomes seen across South Yorkshire over quarter two.
“As the economy opens up after a long period of pandemic restrictions, the balance of South Yorkshire firms are selling more, bringing in new orders and growing in confidence.
“But we mustn’t underestimate the size of the bounceback we need to get back on track. the share of firms operating at their full potential is still much lower than before the pandemic. It’s great that sales are going in the right direction but this is after a year of falling activity.
“We urge Government not to take its eye off the ball as we aim for a strong recovery. Inflation is a growing concern. Many continue to operate under severe restrictions, such as transport and travel firms. And while the majority saw cashflow improve or remain the same, this is after four very difficult quarters in which many took on new debt to stay in business.
“As repayments fall due, there will be new pressures on cash. In the coming period we need as many businesses as possible to flourish from the economic reopening while protecting those still under restrictions for the duration of the roadmap.
“We are joining Chambers from across the country to campaign for the extension of grant support and delay the tapered withdrawal of the furlough scheme.”