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Scottish retail sales slide despite Olympics


Last month, total retail sales in Scotland fell 0.9 per cent on the same month last year as the Olympics failed to boost the retail industry North of the border, according to figures released today.

After accounting for inflation, total sales saw a real terms fall of two per cent, while like-for-like (LFL) sales decreased by 2.7 per cent on last August.

Continuing the downward trend, total retail sales growth remains 2.5 percentage points below the whole of the UK according to the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) and there is no indication that this gap will shrink in the near future.

David McCorquodale, Head of Retail in Scotland at KPMG, said: “With a fantastic Olympics set to inspire a generation in sports, it sadly did not inspire a pickup in high street spending.

“Without doubt, the Olympics and Paralympics brought a much needed feel good factor to consumers but the country was ‘otherwise engaged’ in August and the retail sales figures show a mixed picture.

“However, it could have been much worse. August is traditionally a weak month for sales and it’s really the next three months that will have a critical impact on retailers’ profitability.

“The challenge remains to accurately forecast outcomes in such a volatile trading environment.”

Although the summer’s sporting events did not improve the overall picture, total food sales rose 2.4 per cent over the month as party food proved popular thanks to the Games and a warm middle of the month.

However, total non-food sales declined 4.1 per cent on last August, when they had fallen 2.6 per cent. This 6.7 per cent fall over 24 months is the worst since the survey began 13 years ago.

Richard Lim, Economist at the SRC, commented: “The Olympics were spectacular but didn’t produce the much-needed boost to Scottish retail sales. Sales were down on a year ago and even more than they were in July.

“Some sectors suffered less than others. Food sales growth was noticeably better in August than in July. The Games helped sales of party food and drink but the hot spell in the middle of the month dampened demand for autumn and winter clothing ranges arriving in stores.

“On balance, any gains were more than cancelled out by a big year-on-year drop in sales of non-food goods, which compounded another large fall a year earlier.

“It’s clear the Olympics created a feel-good factor but also a major distraction from shopping. People who were watching on TV or following online were not visiting shops or retail websites.

“With Scottish retailing underperforming the rest of the UK for the 17th month in a row, hopes now rest on money not spent this summer making it to tills in the run-up to Christmas.”

Published on Wednesday 12 September by Editorial Assistant

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