SRC& KPMG: Scottish retailers still waiting for return to pre-pandemic trading
Scottish retailers are still waiting for a return to pre-pandemic trading as total retail sales in Scotland increased by 7.4% compared with July 2020 when they had decreased by 8.3% year-on-year.
According to the latest Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) and KPMG Scottish Retail Sales Monitor, this was below the 3-month average growth of 35.9% and below the 12-month average of 8.4%.
However, on a 2-year basis, Total retail sales continue to perform below pre-pandemic levels, with sales down 4.4% compared with July 2020.
Scottish sales increased by 6.2% year-on-year on a like-for-like basis compared with July 2020, when they had decreased by 7.7%. This is below the 3-month average increase of 30.8% and above the 12-month average growth of 7.0%.
Total Food sales increased 1.8% compared with July last year, when they had increased by 3.5% year-on-year. July was above the 3-month growth of 0.7%, but below the 12-month average growth of 2.3%.
Total Non-Food sales grew by 12.1% in July compared with the same month in 2020, when they had decreased by 18.1%. This was below the 3-month average growth of 65.3% and the 12-month average growth of 13.6%.
Adjusted for the estimated effect of Online sales, Total Non-Food sales increased by 11.7% in July versus July 2020, when they had decreased by 5.2%. This is below the 3-month average growth of 63.1% and the 12-month average growth of 27.3%. This was lower than the UK’s 3m average growth of 24.6%.
Ewan MacDonald-Russell, head of policy & external affairs, SRC, said: “July saw retail sales improve on 2020’s rather desperate performance which came in the immediate aftermath of the first lockdown, but remain below pre-pandemic trading. Indeed, the 4.4% fall compared to 2019 was disappointing after two months when there seemed to be a path back to growth. It seems Scottish retailers have a longer wait in store.
“Food sales continue to perform well, driven last month by strong sales of drinks and outdoor food as Scots took advantage of the sunshine. Non-food sales remain mixed, there was good news for fashion retailers as shoppers looked to update wardrobes for the weather, but furniture and homeware sales dipped compared to the very strong sales last year.
“Despite last month’s sunshine there must be worry there are storm clouds ahead for the Scottish retail industry. Footfall to retail destinations, high street vacancies, and now sales have been negative for some time. With parts of the supply chains under pressure from rising commodity and haulage costs the stresses on operational models are only increasing. If there isn’t an August bump in retail sales from the relaxation of restrictions it may be a long winter for Scottish shops.”
Paul Martin, partner, UK head of retail, KPMG, added: “While social distancing measures persisted throughout July, the picture improved again for Scottish retailers as rising footfall, enabled or encouraged by the move to level 0 restrictions, facilitated a sizeable rise in total sales. However if we compare current levels to 2019, sales do still remain low – a clear indicator of the impact the pandemic continues to have on retailing operations.
“Despite the difference against pre-pandemic levels, retail performance in July was encouraging, especially the steep rise in non-food sales. Hopefully we’ll see this positive momentum continue throughout the summer as the majority of remaining restrictions are eased, retailers resume normal trading and consumers feel confident to spend once again.”