Business confidence in Scotland rose during the first six months of the year according to a new report published today.
Bank of Scotland’s twice yearly Business in Britain report shows confidence — calculated as an average of expected sales, orders and profits — rose by three points to a positive balance of 20%.
Firms are also increasing their investment and recruitment plans.
The balance of Scottish firms looking to grow investments over the next six months rose by 11 points to 13%, compared to the last survey in January.
The report, in its 36th year, gathers the views of more than 1,500 UK companies, predominantly small to medium sized businesses.
Fraser Sime, regional director for Scotland at Bank of Scotland, said: “Businesses in Scotland have shown great resilience and have continued to adapt to these turbulent times.
“Despite firms starting to feel more confident as the landscape shows signs of levelling out, Brexit uncertainty is still at the forefront of minds across Scotland.
“We are however seeing businesses begin to take cautious steps towards growth, with plans to increase investment and recruit more staff.
“Now we need to continue to support those businesses to ensure they seize every opportunity being created by the current climate in order to grow and achieve success.”
UK-wide, business confidence was highest in London at 31% and lowest in the East Midlands at 14%.
Brexit uncertainty is the single greatest risk to firms in Scotland in the next six months, cited by 29% of firms across the country.
The proportion of Scottish firms reporting weaker UK demand as their greatest risk fell five points to 13%, while those citing weaker global demand rose nine points to 13%.
Just under a half (45%) of firms in Scotland expect a negative impact on their business if no trade agreement is reached with the EU.
A tenth of firms expect a positive impact, while 45% either do not expect any impact or said they didn’t know.
Nationally, business confidence was highest in the transport & communication and construction sectors, with the construction sector in particular registering a significant rise compared with January’s survey, rising 12 points to 26%.
Confidence was lowest in retail & wholesale, and in hospitality & leisure, both of which saw confidence fall since January.