The Dundee entrepreneur who is president of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce has raised concerns that confidence among firms was at “worryingly” low levels.
Tim Allan, who owns the Unicorn Property Group and is chairman of V&A Dundee, said there had been weakening outlook across the Scottish construction, manufacturing and retail sectors.
The latest Scottish Chambers of Commerce Quarterly Economic Indicator survey, which was carried out in November and December, showed investment levels remain weak and subdued.
The price of raw materials and the cost of finance is increasing compared to previous quarters, adding to the cost burden.
Meanwhile business rates feature as the most significant concern for all sectors, aside from manufacturing which cited exchanges rates as its main concerns.
Mr Allan, who is also chairman of the Scottish Business Advisory Group, said: “Given recent prolonged uncertainty and trading conditions, these flat results are not surprising.
“The business challenges prevalent in 2019 are showing signs of continuing into 2020 with business confidence at worryingly low levels.
“The decisive election result at Westminster is yet to provide the clear direction that business communities are looking for.
“Of particular concern to businesses will be the extent of divergence the UK Government plans to adopt between UK and EU regulation.
“This continued uncertainty, coupled with a continued sense of “election-style” policy making, has the potential to disrupt business planning, supply chains, as well as negatively impacting on job creation.”
The survey, conducted in partnership with the Fraser of Allander Institute, showed confidence among construction firms was at its lowest point in almost three years.
Among manufacturing firms outlook remained well below long-term averages while retailers failed to report a festive boost.
“Prolonged periods of discounting, changing consumer habits and Black Friday style deals impacted the overall performance of retail companies,” Mr Allan added.
“The sector reported business rates as a leading concern, and one that must be addressed by the Scottish Government to support retailers and our high streets.”