Publication - Research and analysis

Monthly economic brief: December 2020

Published: 23 Dec 2020
Gary Gillespie
Chief Economist Directorate
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The monthly economic brief provides a summary of latest key economic statistics, forecasts and analysis on the Scottish economy.

Monthly economic brief: December 2020



Scotland’s GDP data for October showed that output continued to recover from the record fall in April, however, the pace of recovery further slowed from June and July.

Scottish Monthly GDP Level by Sector
Line chart of monthly GDP index in Scotland by sector between January 2019 and October 2020.
  • Scotland’s GDP grew 0.6% in October (UK: 0.4%), its sixth consecutive month of growth, after the sharp falls of 19.3% in April and 5.6% in March.
  • Growth over this period reflects that output has been recovering as business and consumer activity strengthened with the easing of the national lockdown restrictions during the summer months.
  • However, as in the UK as a whole, the pace of recovery has slowed significantly from the initial rebound in growth in June (6.6%) and July (7.6%) with ongoing weakness in underlying demand (domestic and international) and the introduction of regional restrictions on activity in October.
Scottish Monthly GDP Growth by Sector
Bar chart of monthly GDP growth in Scotland by sector between March and October 2020.
  • This is notable at a sector level.  In October, there was growth in the Construction (1.2%) and Production (2.7%) sectors, however, there was zero growth overall in the Services sector.  While output in most services subsectors did increase, this was offset by a fall of 15.9% in accommodation and food services as regional restrictions on hospitality activity were introduced for several weeks across the central belt NHS Board areas.
  • Overall, GDP in Scotland remains 5.7% below its level in February (UK: 7.9%), prior to the full direct impacts of the pandemic on the economy.  However the recovery in output varies significantly by sector.  In the Production sector output has recovered to 2.2% above its level in February, while Construction output remains 9.1% below and Services 7.2% below.  Within the Services sector, there remains significant variation across industries with consumer facing industries such as Accommodation and Food Services (-43.5%) and Arts, Culture and Recreation (-26.7%) experiencing the slowest recoveries amidst ongoing restrictions.
Quarterly GDP Growth – UK, US & Eurozone
Bar chart of quarterly GDP growth in the UK, US and Eurozone between Q1 2019 and Q3 2020.
  • The overall path of Scottish GDP during the pandemic has broadly been in line with the UK as a whole, though the impacts of the pandemic internationally have varied, reflecting the scale and duration of restrictions across countries. 
  • In Q3 2020, US GDP grew 7.4% (following a 9.0% fall in Q2) and Eurozone GDP grew 12.5% (following a 11.7% fall in Q2).