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Scotland sees steady retail sales growth

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Like-for-like (LFL) retail sales in Scotland in December 2010 grew 0.7 per cent year-on-year, according to the latest research.

Data provided by the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) and professional services firm KPMG revealed that total sales were up by 3.4 per cent on a year ago, although it noted that this increase was set against favourable comparisons in 2009 and reliant on the food sector.

On the flip side clothing & footwear showed its largest year-on-year decline since May 2009 and homewares & furniture also continued to struggle.

Fiona Moriarty, Director of the SRC, called the festive season “a steady Christmas of unspectacular growth” and warned about the “stark division” between the non-food and grocery sectors.

“All December’s sales growth came from food while extreme weather and economic uncertainties dealt a major blow to sales of non-food goods,” she explained.

“But a seasonal surge in food sales cannot disguise customers’ cautious mood.”

The bad weather experienced at the end of last year had a real impact on the Scottish retail industry, with some big name companies such as Tesco and Boots cancelling deliveries at one stage because they could not guarantee goods would arrive on time.

Concerns remain that the forthcoming public sector cuts, due to be implemented in the coming months as the government’s austerity measures start to take hold, will have a particularly negative effect on the retail industry north of the border.

Retail Operations Director at John Lewis Andrew Murphy, who used to be Managing Director of his company’s Edinburgh and Aberdeen stores, told Retail Gazette that he, like many of his peers, predicted the Scottish retail growth of the last decade was unsustainable.

“The difficulty there has been entirely explicable as there are significantly fewer people in Scotland than there are in London, for example,” he remarked.

“There was a large retail expansion throughout the last decade, including a lot in secondary locations, which many of us who were there at the time said was unsustainable.

“However, Scottish retail will find its level and it will build again because the country’s economy is robust enough.

“In the short term though, the public sector cuts are set to be proportionately more damaging to Scotland than they will be to most other parts of the UK.”

Published on Wednesday 19 January by Editorial Assistant

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