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Scottish sales see biggest decline in over a decade

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With retail sales across the UK struggling, Scotland continued to see the worst trading in May, with new data from the region showing the worst fall in business since 1999.

The latest Scottish Sales Monitor from KPMG & the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) shows that like-for-like (LFL) sales last month dropped 3.2 per cent year-on-year.

Non-food witnessed the biggest decline in trade, down 4.9 per cent on a LFL basis, whilst LFL food sales decreased 1.3 per cent compared to the same month last year.

Warm weather and bank holidays helped retailers north of the border record a 3.4 per cent rise in revenues during April but the lift was short lived with total sales down 1.1 per cent in May.

Fiona Moriarty, Director of the SRC, said: “After the combination of unusually sunny weather, Easter and the extra bank holiday in April which boosted spending, this is a return to reality for Scottish retailers.

“It’s clear that April’s good figures were a blip, with May producing the worst fall in total sales values since we began this survey in 1999.

“People remain nervous about the economy and their personal finances. Non-food sales in particular are struggling and shoppers don’t have the confidence to spend on big-ticket items.”

Other discretionary spending was also depressed during the month, with clothing sales declining the most they have for three years, and even essentials such as food & drink saw trading growth fall back significantly.

Consumer confidence still remains lower in Scotland than in the rest of the country and retailers are finding it increasingly difficult to encourage shoppers to part with their cash.

David McCorquodale, Head of Retail in Scotland for KPMG, commented: “Across all categories, footfall and volumes are down as consumers continue to be wary as to how they spend their reduced disposable income.

“Many retailers have responded with promotions but as they themselves battle with cost inflation and upward rent reviews, the squeeze on margins and lower volumes is negatively affecting their own cashflows.

“I fear a tough road ahead for the remainder of the year where more than a long, hot summer is required.”

Published on Wednesday 15 June by Editorial Assistant

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