Scottish retail sales go up, but are still behind UK rate
Despite a small rise, Scottish sales still remain lower than the rest of the UK.
Total retail sales remained stagnant last month in Scotland, with the 1% rise in September last year flattened out by inflation, according to a Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) report.
While food sales were 3.4% higher, following a 1.5% rise last year, non-food sales declined year-on-year by 1.2%. This suggests many customers might be postponing purchases.
The increase in food sales, however, was partly driven by promotions and discounts, particularly sales that gave shoppers a discount on petrol.
The best performing non-food category in September was clothing and footwear.
In furniture and flooring items coverings remained weak but fitted kitchens showed a better performance when compared to depressed the levels of the previous September.
Stripping out the impact of new stores and expansions, like-for-like sales in September dropped by 0.8%.
The research done by KPMG, an firm of accountants for the SRC, shows that the Christmas season had appeared to start early, with impulse purchasing of festive confectionery reported to be already doing well.
Fiona Moriarty, director of SRC, said the figures offer “faint glimmers of hope” after a disappointing summer for sales and two consecutive months of year-on-year falls.
Ms Moriarty added that any modest revival in sales should be seen within a wider context of continual pressures on household incomes. She said retailers will be hoping that this very tentative boost builds as the crucial Christmas season is close.
David McCorquodale, head of retail in Scotland at KPMG, said September's figures appear to bring much needed relief for Scottish retailers, even though the increase was just 1%.
According to the SRC report, however, after accounting for inflation, September sales were flat in real terms. At the same time, this represents the best growth over a 24 month period since the beginning of the year.
The Scottish retail growth figures are lagging 2.4 % behind the UK average.