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2013: Another difficult year for much of Scottish Business

[ 23-01-2013 ]

Scottish Chambers of Commerce have today (Wednesday) released their Business Survey results for the fourth quarter of 2012.  The survey, conducted in conjunction with the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute, reports continued weaknesses in activity in much of the Scottish economy but with some limited signs of improvement in manufacturing and construction, although not in the service sector.  The results highlight the need for Governments at a UK and Scottish level to maintain a clear focus on tackling the barriers to growth and to support business through a prolonged period of below trend growth.
Garry Clark, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:
“Our latest survey suggests that many Scottish businesses continue to experience difficult trading conditions and anticipate little change in the first half of 2013.  Whilst there have been marginal improvements in performance and outlook for a number of businesses across the manufacturing and construction sectors, this is against a background of poor expectations at the end of summer 2012 and the reality is that, in most cases, expectations are little or no better than they were a year ago.
“The retail and tourism sectors continue to suffer from weak consumer demand and already in 2013 the pattern of extensive discounting and rate cutting together with outlets closing is all too clear.  Tourism is looking to bounce back from a disappointing summer in 2012, where the negative impact of the Olympics and bad weather damaged trade.  2013 could be the year when the Olympic dividend is finally achieved, following last year’s shop window to the world.  On the other hand, many retailers are looking to government to help support the regeneration of town centres in the face of evolving shopping habits and lifestyle changes.  It is therefore extremely worrying that the Scottish Government is pressing ahead with its plans to reduce empty property relief, taking £18 million per year of potential investment out of our town centres at the very time we need property owners to be preparing for changing retail requirements.
“The Scottish Government’s focus on capital spending is extremely welcome, however, and the additional resources made available over the next three years as a result of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement means that it ought to be possible to get the programme of ‘shovel ready projects’ in place.  What we cannot afford is delay in the implementation phase – let’s not forget that the Aberdeen Bypass could have been termed ‘shovel ready’ a decade ago.  In addition, the Government needs to focus on areas that will deliver long term economic benefit to Scotland, such as digital connectivity and transport infrastructure.
“Debates over the potential for a ‘triple dip recession’ in 2013 are unhelpful.  Unfortunately for many Scottish businesses, activity in 2013 is more likely to reflect an economy bumping along the bottom of a recession rather than one in real recovery mode.”

Click here to view Q4 2012 results