Retail and jobs figures boost Scots recovery

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A RAFT of figures published today will stoke renewed optimism in the outlook for Scotland’s economic recovery.

The Bank of Scotland’s monthly labour market barometer – which measures the outlook for the jobs market – hit 58.5 last month from 54.7 in May, marking its biggest jump since the early days of the credit crunch in October 2007.

Average permanent salaries rose at their fastest pace since September 2007, while the number of permanent jobs on offer grew at its strongest rate for 14 months. Donald MacRae, chief economist at Bank of Scotland, said: “These results signal a further strengthening of the recovery in the Scottish economy and bode well for employment throughout 2013.”

A separate report from recruitment agency Reed found that Scotland is one of the most-upbeat parts of the UK, with workers having a “higher level of confidence in the strength of their local economy and a strong sense of job security”.

Data from the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) showed a 1.2 per cent year-on-year rise in footfall at shops north of the Border last month, compared with a rise of just 0.1 per cent for the UK as a whole.

SRC director Fiona Moriarty said: “With the improving weather in June, we saw an increase in footfall.

“Retailers are continuing to have to work hard to tempt shoppers, however, whilst customers remain careful with their money, we are seeing them respond to seasonal promotions and discounts.”

Accountancy firm Begbies Traynor believes Scotland’s economy is poised to bounce back ahead of the UK-wide recovery due to a drop in the number of businesses identified as being in “critical distress” in the practice’s “red flag” survey.

There was a 71 per cent drop in the number of firms in “critical distress” – facing winding-up orders – in the three months to 30 June, compared with a 39 per cent fall for the UK as a whole.

Confidence among small businesses has also hit a five-year high, according to a UK-wide survey by Lloyds TSB.