SRC & KPMG: Some festive growth beneath black Friday distortion

Retail sales have seen some festive growth side from Black Friday sales distortions, according to the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) and KPMG.

The SRC-KPMG Scottish Retail Sales Monitor’s has found that from the 27th October - 23rd November total retail sales in Scotland decreased by 2.5% compared with November 2018, when they had decreased by 1.6%.

However, adjusting for Black Friday, SRC and KPMG estimate growth at 0.8%, which is above both the 3-month and 12-month average corrected declines of 0.2% and 0.1% respectively. Adjusted for deflation measured at 0.5% by the BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index (SPI), November sales increased 1.3%

The monitor also found that Scottish sales decreased by 3.4% on a like-for-like basis compared with November 2018, when they had decreased by 2.1%. This is below the 3-month average decrease of 2.0%.

The two organisations estimate that when adjusting for Black Friday, like-for-like growth was 0.1%.

Total Food sales increased 2.7% versus November 2018, when they had increased by 2.8%. This is above the 3-month and 12-month averages of 2.5% and 2.4% respectively. The 3-month and 12-month averages are above the UK’s levels of 1.3% and 1.5% respectively.

Total Non-Food sales decreased by 6.8% in November compared to November 2018, when they had decreased by 5.0%.

When adjusting for the Black Friday distortion, we estimate that the Non-Food decline was 0.7% in November.

Adjusted for the estimated effect of Online sales, Total Non-Food sales decreased by 10.7% in November versus November 2018, when they decreased by 4.1%.

When correcting for the effect of Black Friday, Online-adjusted Total Non-Food growth was 1.1% in November. This is above both the 3-month and 12-month average corrected declines of 1.2% and 0.9% respectively.

Ewan MacDonald-Russell, head of policy & external affairs, SRC, said: “Once adjustments for Black Friday are considered, retailers will be cautiously optimistic after a November which looks like it matched 2018. After a difficult autumn, this provides a little hope for hard-pressed retailers as we head into the most important trading month of the year.

“Food sales continue to grow year on year, although we still believe inflation is the key contributor to that growth. Non-food sales grew by 1.1%, with smaller electrical goods and Christmas decorations doing well. However, there is still a concern cautious consumers are holding back from more expensive purchases; at least in part due to the volatile political climate.

“Retailers’ concerns about stretched consumer spending is being exacerbated by the risks of increasing public policy costs. Just last month Opposition MSPs voted in favour of localising business rates, a move that – if Northern Ireland is any guide - could raise the overall business rates burden by a fifth. With voters heading to the polls this week, we hope political leaders will prioritise the interests of consumers in the coming months by focusing on supporting households and keeping down costs for retailers.”

Paul Martin, UK head of retail, KPMG, added: “November’s figures make troubling reading, with a sharp decline in like-for-like sales of -5.2%, but it’s important to place the results into some context. If adjusted for the later timing of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we would have actually witnessed a very modest growth of 0.1%.

“However, there’s no escaping the challenges facing Scottish retailers as uncertainty hangs over the economy. The sector is working tirelessly to regain lost ground, with the next few weeks crucial as the industry looks to deliver positive results in what for many is the most important trading period of the year.”

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