Businesses in Scotland 2018

A National Statistics Publication for Scotland.

Scotland’s Chief Statistician today released Businesses in Scotland 2018.

The main findings are:

As at March 2018, there were an estimated 345,915 private sector businesses operating in Scotland – representing a decrease of 8,830 businesses (-2.5 per cent) since March 2017.

The decrease over the latest year was driven by a fall in the number of unregistered businesses (those not registered for VAT and/or PAYE). The number of unregistered businesses decreased from 178,340 in 2017 to 169,620 in 2018 – a decrease of 8,720 unregistered businesses (-4.9 per cent).

The number of VAT/PAYE registered businesses has decreased over the latest year also - down by 105 businesses (-0.1 per cent) from 174,600 in 2017 to 176,295 in 2018 – this is the first fall in the registered business stock since 2011.

The number of employers has increased by 915 (0.9 per cent) over the latest year, from 107,465 employers in 2017 to 108,380 employers in 2018. There are now more private sector employers operating in Scotland than at any other time in the series (back to 2000).

As at March 2018, there were 343,535 Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) operating in Scotland, providing an estimated 1.2 million jobs. SMEs accounted for 99.3 per cent of all private sector businesses in 2018, accounting for 54.9 per cent of private sector employment and 41.5 per cent of private sector turnover.

The figures released today were produced in accordance with professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.


Unregistered enterprises are micro businesses which consist of only a sole trader or partners. Unregistered enterprises do not employ others and have an annual turnover below the VAT threshold (£85,000 as at March 2018).

The estimates include businesses that operate in Scotland irrespective of whether their main UK base is in Scotland or elsewhere. Businesses are classified by employee size bands based on the number of their total UK employees.

The full statistical publication is available at:

This publication contains statistics on the number of enterprises (businesses) operating in Scotland. Statistics are provided by industry, business size, local authority area, urban/rural area and country of ownership.

Further information on Business and Enterprise statistics within Scotland can be accessed at:

Official statistics are produced in accordance with professional standards – more information on the standards of official statistics in Scotland can be accessed at:


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