Royal Bank of Scotland PMI report for January 2024

Scottish private sector activity rises for first time in six months 

Key findings

  • Growth in services activity outweighs manufacturing downturn 
  • Weakest decline in new orders since last July
  • Solid, albeit skewed growth in staffing levels 


The upturn was solely reliant on the gains made in the service sector, while manufacturers reported a further sharp reduction in production volumes. The service sector benefited from improved demand conditions, and reported a second consecutive monthly rise in new orders. However, manufacturing firms struggled to drive sales in the latest survey period. The opposing pull of the sectors meant only a fractional fall in overall new orders. 

Reflective of activity and new order growth, only the service sector raised its staffing levels in January, and that too at an accelerated pace. Employment levels fell at manufacturers for the first time in four months.

A seventh consecutive monthly fall in new orders was recorded across Scotland in January. The decrease resulted from a sustained and sharp fall in new factory orders. However, the downturn moderated, with the rate of decrease the weakest since last July and fractional overall. The uptick in the respective seasonally adjusted index was driven by a stronger rise in inflows of new business at service providers. Firms attributed this to improvement in demand conditions, new client wins and increased advertising.


Judith Cruickshank, Chair, Scotland Board, Royal Bank of Scotland, commented:

"The Scottish private sector recorded an uplift in activity at the start of the year. The upturn was the first seen in six months and solid overall. However, growth was imbalanced, centred solely at service providers who have shown resilience amid a subdued economic climate. Meanwhile, the manufacturing sector reported a further sharp deterioration. 

"Going forward, Scotland's private sector maintains a healthy outlook for output in the coming 12 months. However, elevated inflation and interest rates as well as lingering economic uncertainty could undermine growth prospects."

Please see the regional report in full:


Royal Bank of Scotland UK Regional PMI (PDF, 1.8MB)

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