Scotland has posted the best August sales growth since 2009 as retail continues its path towards recovery.
The SRC- KPMG Scottish Retail Sales Monitor found that total Scottish sales in August 2013 increased by 3.5 per cent compared with August 2012, when they had declined by 0.9 per cent. Like-for-like sales increased by 0.8 per cent on last August, when they had decreased by 2.7 per cent. Taking account of shop price deflation at 0.5 per cent, August total sales were up 4 per cent in real terms.
Total food sales were 3.6 per cent up on August 2012, when they had increased 2.4 per cent. Total non-food sales increased by 3.4 per cent on a year earlier when they had decreased by 4.1 per cent.
Clothing and footware recorded the weakest growth, but sales remained ‘decent’ considering August is a transitional month which sees the end of the summer promotions and the launch of the Autumn ranges. The children’s category was the strongest, testament of a good start to the back-to-school season.
Fiona Moriarty, Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “The best August since 2009 has helped to keep the positive momentum going following a record-breaking July. Combined with a recent uplift in Scottish consumer confidence, the signs are that many of us are increasingly feeling more optimistic about the economy and responding well to retailers’ targeted promotions and new ranges.
“The best growth was seen in food: even if it wasn’t in line with its exceptional July result, it still had a solid showing buoyed by barbeque and picnic fare on warm days but also more wintry food when the temperatures cooled down.
“This is another strong result almost equal to the UK and matching its three month average of 3.4 per cent. That’s a very encouraging quarter which puts Scottish retailers in a good position as we shift to a new season and start getting into gear for the all-important Christmas countdown.”
Last month, Scottish sales outstripped British sales due to warmer weather and Andy Murray’s victory at Wimbledon. Scotland recorded the driest August since 2003 and the warmest since 2004, which appeared to improve overall business. The changing weather helped the sales of accessories for the home as well as for outdoors. Cooking accessories had a good month and demand for outdoor living was only restricted by stock availability.
Electricals also gathered momentum in August, with a good pick-up from online orders in particular. There was good demand for laptops and tablets from students. Household appliances, large – from washing machines to refrigerators – and small – from vacuum cleaners to coffee makers – were also popular.
David McCorquodale, Head of Retail, KPMG, commented: “The welcome warmth of summer continued to stoke the tills on the High Street in August. As the sunshine continued and media reports hinted at increases in consumer confidence, shoppers responded to give retailers another positive month.
“Fashion retailers and garden centres benefited from the weather but the surprise package was the uplift in sales of furniture and flooring which, due to its higher ticket price, gives the strongest indication of returning consumer confidence. The slight decline in food sales on a like-for-like basis is primarily due to the Olympic effect last year.
The three-month average total sales growth is now in line with the UK at 3.4 per cent.