Scottish business confidence near record low despite May uptick

Confidence levels among Scottish firms have nudged higher but remain near record lows, the latest Bank of Scotland snapshot suggests.

Fraser Sime, regional director for Scotland at Bank of Scotland Commercial Banking.

Business confidence rose 17 points during May to -33 per cent, according to the Business Barometer report produced by the lender’s commercial banking arm.

Companies in Scotland reported higher confidence in their own business prospects than in April, giving a reading of -26 per cent. When taken alongside their views of the economy overall, this gives the headline confidence reading of -33 per cent.

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The barometer questions 1,200 businesses monthly and provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide.

Fraser Sime, regional director at Bank of Scotland Commercial Banking, said: “Scottish firms have been hit hard by this crisis, but they’re showing resilience in the face of great challenge. It’s encouraging to see that some businesses are beginning to reopen as demand creeps back.”

Meanwhile, confidence among engineering businesses has collapsed, according to the latest quarterly report from Scottish Engineering.

Four out of five companies said their organisation will likely shrink employee numbers in the next six months.

Scottish Engineering’s chief executive Paul Sheerin said: “Covid-19 has been an economic tornado, both in the pace and impact that it is causing, and these results make crystal clear the need for rapid recovery actions as soon as public health considerations allow. Part of that recovery will look and feel different to the way we have worked before, as amongst these massively difficult business conditions, there has been recognition that our adaptation to digitally connected working shows advantages previously unseen.”

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