Optimistic report

Strong recovery predicted for Scottish cities

The report predicts a sharp rise in growth for Glasgow and Edinburgh

Scotland’s two biggest cities are poised to see sharply rising growth and record rates of employment this year as they make a strong recovery from the pandemic.

Research by Avison Young predicts Glasgow’s gross value added (GVA), a measure of economic output, will rise by 5.7%, significantly higher than its pre-Covid average of 1.4%

Edinburgh’s GVA will rise by 5.5%, more than double the average growth rate of 2.6% seen in the decade before the onset of the pandemic.

Much of the growth will be a result of recovery from the low activity resulting from lockdowns as companies take on more workers. About 8,500 jobs are predicted for Edinburgh, which would see a record of 382,000 workers in the labour market. About one quarter of the new positions are expected to be in office-based roles.

Glasgow is expected to add 9,600 jobs, with about 3,700 in offices, lifting its job total to 449,000, which would also be a record.

Unemployment has been falling across the UK. However, there is no mention in the report of growing problems filling vacancies, which has also been impacted by overseas workers leaving the UK following Brexit. Some argue that this will hold back expansion.

The report predicts the biggest recruiters will be in food and drink, the arts and entertainment. It says average growth in retail spending across Edinburgh will increase by 3.5%, higher than the average of 2.1% for other major cities.

Other research points to continuing struggles and cutbacks in these sectors, including jobs being lost at high street success stories such as Primark, while footfall in shops is continuing to decline and Scotland has a higher than average number of empty shop units .

There are also questions over actual demand for office space. New research from Theta Global Advisors says more than half (51%) of British workers have worked better from home, and 41% believe a rush back to the office is a poor strategy choice on the part of their management teams.

Investment in industrial property and retail warehousing overtake offices for the first time since 2011, according to figures from Knight Frank. However, it also says it expects more activity in this sector in the months ahead, with Edinburgh and Glasgow remaining good value compared to many other major European cities.

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