Scottish Chambers of Commerce have today (Thursday) released their Business Survey results for the fourth quarter of 2013. This broadly based survey, now in its 30th year and conducted in conjunction with the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute, reported that in all sectors, trends in business confidence are stronger than a year ago, indicating that the economy is still progressing towards pre-recession levels and that the worst of the recession may now be over. However the recovery still remains fragile and further action may be required to ensure that it is sustainable.
Garry Clark, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:
“This survey contains the most positive signs of growth and business activity that we have seen for many years. The good news is that businesses across a range of sectors are more confident at the start of 2014 than they were a year ago and the construction sector in particular has recovered dramatically after many years of decline.
“In manufacturing, orders from within the UK have strengthened, even though trends in export orders have proved to be less strong, and the outlook remains positive across the board. One area of potential concern is the low cashflow that some manufacturers are reporting. This makes it even more important that businesses have access to finance in order to fund investment for growth. This is particularly true for small and medium businesses, since investment levels will require to grow if the recovery is to become more broadly based and sustainable.
“At the beginning of the Year of Homecoming, optimism is also high in the Scottish tourism sector, following a strong end to 2013. Though expectations for the beginning of 2014 are modest, occupancy levels are higher than they were a year ago and bar and restaurant trade is improving. Overall, tourism optimism is at an eight year high and with iconic events such as the Ryder Cup, Commonwealth Games and MTV Europe Music Awards coming to Scotland this year, there is every opportunity to succeed and to ensure that the legacy is fully realised.
“Employment trends are mixed across the sectors, perhaps in part reflecting seasonal variations, but wage growth seems to be picking up slightly, offering some hope that the consumer led recovery can be sustained until investment levels begin to increase.
“There is a lot to be optimistic about in the Scottish economy in 2014. However, government must ensure that businesses feel confident to invest and that will mean continuing to prioritise access to finance and also committing to future mitigation of fixed costs such as business rates.”