‘Pallid’ Scottish retail results but gap with UK narrows

SRCScotland’s high street stores have reported a disappointing October, according to figures from the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC).

While total sales across the UK were up by 0.9 per cent on the previous year, figures for Scotland showed a drop of 2.4 per cent.

Like-for-like-sales, which strip out factors such as new store openings, were 2.8 per cent lower, reported the SRC/KPMG Scottish Retails Sales Monitor.

Mild autumn weather may have depressed clothing sales, while electrical goods shoppers may be waiting for sales.

Total Food sales were 3.2 per cent down on October 2014, when they had decreased 2.7 per cent.

Adjusted for the estimated effect of online sales in Scotland, total Non-Food sales decreased by 0.3 per cent over a rise of 2.1 per cent in to October 2014.

The October 2014 growth is the fastest growth over the last thirteen months.

Three-month average total Non-Food sales growth was 0.5 per cent (online adjusted) in Scotland against a growth of 2.9 per cent in the UK, a 0.3 percentage point narrowing of the gap seen in September.

David McCorquodale
David McCorquodale

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said the figures were “a sobering reminder of the frailty of the economic recovery”.

He added: “There is no doubt the declines in Scottish retail sales in October, when measured against a relatively weak month last year, are disappointing for retailers when set against mainly dry weather and temperatures only marginally warmer than average.”

Mr McCorquodale said the weather “wasn’t cold enough” for sales of coats or boots to do well, adding that with shoppers “perhaps waiting for heavy promotions, retailers were left pushing themed products for Halloween”.

He said the next few weeks would be vital for retailers with the tactics around Black Friday and the run-up to Christmas beginning to unfold.

Total food sales were down by 3.2 per cent when compared to October 2014, with stores unable to fully benefit from the Rugby World Cup after Scotland went out of the tournament.

SRC director David Lonsdale added: “This rather pallid set of results paints a disappointing October overall for Scotland’s retailers, with total retail sales edging down again once falling shop prices are taken into account.

“It could be that shoppers are simply holding out for even better deals in the run-up to Christmas, perhaps with an eye towards potential online discounting at the end of this month, despite the fact that shop prices are already at record lows.

“With the spotlight on the Autumn Statement and the Scottish Budget over the next few weeks, retailers will be hoping for measures which put money in peoples’ pockets and which encourage them to invest and grow.”

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