SCOTLAND'S manufacturing, construction, tourism, and financial and business services sectors enjoyed growing demand in the last quarter, and increased employment, a survey has revealed.
The survey, published by Scottish Chambers of Commerce and conducted by Strathclyde University's Fraser of Allander Institute, signals that the retail and wholesale sectors continue to endure tougher times.
However, retailers are predicting a turnaround in sales in the current quarter. Scottish Chambers cites strong investment trends in manufacturing and business and financial services as evidence that firms are not being deterred from making
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capital expenditure by September's referendum on Scottish independence, next year's General Election, or
the possibility of a poll on future UK membership of the European Union.
It says: "Recently, concerns have been raised as to whether political uncertainty, emanating from the prospects of not only the Scottish referendum but also...the 2015 General Election and the possibility of a referendum on Europe in 2016, is having an effect on the investment plans of Scottish companies.
"This latest survey found no evidence that this is the case, with investment in the financial and business services sector increasing for both capital and training and with manufacturing investment balances at their highest levels since 2007."
Liz Cameron, chief executive of Scottish Chambers, noted most sectors were experiencing growth and declared the survey showed business was on the right track.
The survey shows sharp rises in optimism in manufacturing, construction and tourism.
Generally upbeat about its findings, Scottish Chambers says: "Evidence from this latest [survey] suggests that the Scottish economy is currently enjoying a strong recovery with optimism, demand and employment generally rising."
However, it also highlights continuing caution among some survey respondents about the prospects for sustained recovery, "with rising house prices in London and rising consumer credit still being the key drivers of economic growth".
Ms Cameron was encouraged by the rise in employment at Scottish companies.
She said: "Employment is a key measurement of business mood and our findings show that, with increased growth and confidence, businesses are now moving away from employing temporary staff towards new permanent full-time positions. This is good news for everyone, providing employees and business with a level of stability."
However, she warned skills shortages were making it difficult for businesses to source and employ the staff required to maintain this growth.
The survey signals strong growth in orders in the Scottish manufacturing and construction sectors in the last quarter, and an expectation that this will continue.
Financial and business services firms, overall, project continued strong growth in sales.
Firms in the tourism sector are also optimistic that growth in demand will continue.
Retailers suffered a fall in sales in the last quarter.
However, they are, overall, projecting a rise in sales in the current quarter.
Overall, wholesalers suffered a fall in sales in the last quarter. They expect another fall in the current quarter.