Retail sales in Scotland grew by volume and value year-on-year during the second quarter of 2011, new research has shown.
Figures released by the country’s Chief Statistician Rob Wishart yesterday indicate that despite the squeeze on consumer spending caused by inflation, rising fuel prices and other pressures, retail sales volumes rose 1.8 per cent compared to Q2 last year.
The value of retail sales increased 3.3 per cent annually in the three-month period, meaning the retail industry north of the border expanded at a faster rate than the UK retail industry as a whole, which saw year-on-year growth of 2.9 per cent.
Enterprise Minister Fergus Ewing said that the data highlights how measures implemented by the Scottish government have helped maintain a relatively healthy level of consumer confidence, although he warned “there can be absolutely no grounds for complacency”.
“More needs to be done and recovery needs to be strengthened. That’s why we are urging the UK government to prioritise growth and support job security to boost consumer confidence - which is being undermined by inflation, fuel prices and other pressures - by developing an economic Plan B or flexibility,” he explained.
“The Chancellor needs to acknowledge that economic conditions have changed, and act now to implement measures to aid recovery.”
Despite the relatively rosy picture painted by the Scottish government, other indexes show that difficult times remain for retailers north of the border.
The Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) and KPMG’s Retail Sales Monitor for June indicated that there was no annual growth or decline in total sales during the course of the month, while like-for-like trading slipped 1.8 per cent.
Commenting at the time the results were released last month, Head of Media at the SRC Richard Dodd said: “When zero sales growth is an improvement you know times are tough.
“In fact overall sales were not even that good when the effect on spending figures of inflation and higher VAT is factored in.”
Official figures may hint at an improving Scottish retail industry, but the plethora of recent business collapses within the sector, huge reliance on promotions and growing uncertainty about the future of the economy would suggest widespread recovery should in no way be taken for granted.
According to the government, Scotland’s retail industry accounts for approximately 5.3 per cent of the nation’s economy.