Business optimism boost as restrictions are relaxed

Business confidence in Scotland rebounded in January to its highest in four months as the easing of Omicron-related restrictions boosted morale.

The latest business barometer from the Bank of Scotland recorded a 13 percentage point increase in optimism to 37 per cent, the highest since September. Companies’ confidence in their own prospects rose by 23 points to 45%, while optimism about the wider economy was up four points at 30%.

A net balance of 24% of Scottish firms said they expect to increase staffing levels in the coming year, up one percentage point on the previous month.

READ MORE: Is the hospitality sector finally turning a corner as pandemic restrictions ease?

“After a turbulent end to the year with the rise of the Omicron variant sparking new restrictions, it’s encouraging to see Scottish business confidence rebound as we kick off 2022,” Bank of Scotland regional director Fraser Sime said.

“While the situation remains challenging, the recent easing of restrictions in Scotland will be a boost for businesses and we hope that the situation will continue to improve as the year progresses.”

READ MORE: Scottish insolvencies leap as directors ‘make decision to close’ after pandemic struggle

Confidence across the UK edged one point lower to 39%, holding reasonably steady despite concerns about rising costs. Every nation and region maintained a positive reading in January, with Yorkshire and the Humber the most optimistic at 48%.

Industry sector performance across the UK was mixed in January, with the manufacturing sector up three points to 43% due to a reported easing of supply chain pressures. Retail confidence was one point higher at 44%, while confidence among firms in IT and communications remained particularly strong at 72%.

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