Economic optimism in Scotland is now worse than in any other part of the UK and almost nine times as negative as England, revealed the firm’s Consumer Sentiment Tracker. Confidence north of the border was now even worse than the north east of England, which has traditionally been the worst performing region.
Polled earlier this month, nearly one third (29%) of Scottish people said they believed their economy would worsen over the next six months, compared with 16% who offered the same judgement in August.
In the latest poll, 14% of Scots thought their economy would improve over the next six months, as opposed to 28% in the previous survey.
‘Uncertainty breeds negativity’
Conlumino md Neil Saunders attributed the weakening economic confidence to uncertainty about tomorrow’s independence referendum. “The forthcoming vote and what happens afterwards is mired in uncertainty and that uncertainty breeds negativity among consumers,” said Saunders.
“However, this isn’t a great result for the yes campaign: as the prospects of independence have increased the sentiment of Scotland has plunged.”
But the rest of the UK has not escaped with the fear of independence dinting consumer confidence across all regions, albeit to a lesser extent than in Scotland, added Saunders.
“The uncertainty surrounding the looming referendum in Scotland has pushed consumer confidence in the Scottish economy to the lowest level in well over a year,” said the research group.
While the UK and Scottish economy continues to strength, said the firm, the looming referendum and the increased probability of a yes vote had “weakened sentiment across the board”.
‘The referendum affects the rest of the UK’
Conlumino commercial director Stephen Ward said: “Although independence is in the hands of the Scottish people, the result of the referendum affects the rest of the UK and that is weighing on people’s minds.
“Consumers have heard a lot of warnings about the economic difficulties a yes vote could bring and that has coloured their views this month.”
Last month a food industry insider told FoodManufacture.co.uk that business managers’ uncertainty over the referendum had cost of thousands of jobs and stalled much-needed investment.
Earlier this month leading retail bosses from Waitrose owner the John Lewis Partnership and Asda warned that food prices may rise in the event of a yes vote tomorrow. But Morrisons said food prices could actually fall if the people of Scotland voted for independence.
Meanwhile, the John Lewis Partnership declined to comment on warnings from the former Scottish National Party deputy leader Jim Sillars that there would be “a day of reckoning” for firms – including the Waitrose owner –that had spoken out against a yes vote.