Scottish retail sales enjoy modest rise

Buch St

Scottish retail sales increased by 1.9 per cent last month on a like-for-like basis compared to August 2016 when they had decreased by 1.9 per cent, according to latest data released today by the Scottish Retail Consortium and KPMG.

In August, total sales in Scotland rose by 1.0 per cent compared with August 2016, when they had declined by 2.2 per cent.

This represented a better performance than the three-month and twelve-month averages of 0.3 per cent and -0.5 per cent respectively.

Adjusted for deflation measured at 0.3 per cent by the BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index (SPI), August sales grew by 1.3 per cent.

Total Food sales in August increased 4.1 per cent versus August 2016, when they had decreased by 0.3 per cent. This makes the twelve-month average growth 2.3 per cent, the highest since Jun 2014.

However, total non-food sales declined 1.5 per cent compared to August 2016, when they had decreased by 3.7 per cent. Although this was an improvement on the twelve-month average decline of 2.7 per cent.

Adjusted for the estimated effect of Online sales, Total Non-Food sales rose by 0.9 per cent versus August 2016, when they had decreased by 1.7 per cent. On a three-month basis, the Online-adjusted Total Non-Food change declined 0.5 per cent, below the UK growth of 0.9 per cent.

Ewan MacDonald-Russell

Ewan MacDonald-Russell

Ewan MacDonald-Russell, head of policy and external affairs at Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “On the surface there is some good news in August’s figures. Real terms sales rose by 1.3 percent, with customers taking advantage of early Autumn ranges. Food continued to perform well with a year-on-year increase of 4.2 percent, albeit that continues to be partially driven by food price inflation of 1.3 percent. Nonetheless, it’s positive to see that inflation figure has stabilised for the time being, hopefully helping shoppers facing straightened times.

“The Non-food sales decline of 1.5 percent was an improvement over the twelve-month average of -2.7 percent, with household textiles and back-to-school ranges performing well. However, it’s important to note both food and non-food are being compared to a very poor August in 2016. Therefore, the apparent spike in performance may well be a statistical quirk rather than evidence of sustained sales improvement.

“Nonetheless retailers will welcome these figures after a pretty disappointing summer. However, the underlying challenges facing the industry, not least the continued pressure on household incomes and fragile consumer confidence, mean Government should be very careful about any policies which could lead to increases to the cost of living.”

Craig Cavin, Head of Retail in Scotland | KPMG said: “Scottish retail’s return to growth continued in August, as food sales’ sustained period in the black was extended. Grocery sales lead the charge once again, with a 4.1 per cent year on year increase bringing the 12-month average to its highest level for more than three years.

“With August bringing children’s return to school, the Edinburgh Festival and the release of autumn clothing ranges, non-food’s recent poor performance received a late summer boost, with online sales nudging the category into growth.

“However, despite home furnishings, TVs and fridges all selling well as consumers prepare their houses for the longer autumnal evenings, other non-food remained in decline.

“Looking ahead, shop owners will have one eye on the Scottish Government’s taxation plans, announced in the coming weeks, as they look for greater support for the industry.”

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