SCOTTISH businesses are not expecting their prospects to improve any time soon, according to a raft of surveys pointing to sluggish activity.
The key services sector will remain in the doldrums this year despite signs of recovery in manufacturing and construction, says Scottish Chambers of Commerce and Strathclyde University’s Fraser of Allander Institute.
The chambers warn that the important retail and tourism sectors are coming under pressure from a lack of consumer spending, although visitor numbers should bounce back after Scotland lost trade to London’s Olympics last year.
The chambers’ head of policy and public affairs, Garry Clark, 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.”
A CBI survey showed Scottish industry underperforming the rest of the UK, with exports, orders, output and optimism in decline. The wider UK industrial trends survey showed manufacturing output and orders were flat in the last three months.
The director of CBI Scotland, Iain McMillan, said: “These results are disappointing and show that manufacturing industry in Scotland still faces a very difficult economic situation. Although expectations for domestic orders and exports over the next three months are positive, the numbers do not indicate any real strength of recovery.”