Expectations faded as Christmas approached

David Lonsdale

The latest published SRC-KPMG Scottish Retail Sales Monitor, for November 2018, appeared to indicate that expectations of a strong festive period were fading as Christmas and New Year approached.

Total sales in Scotland in November decreased by 1.6% compared with November 2017, the deepest decline since February 2017, excluding Easter distortions and below both the three-month and 12-month averages of -0.2% and 0.5% respectively. Adjusted for inflation measured at 0.1%, November sales decreased 1.7%.

Total food sales in November did increase by 2.8% versus November 2017, when they had increased by 4.2%. This, however, is also below both the three-month average of 3.0% and the 12-month average of 3.9%, the lowest 12-month average since December 2017.

David Lonsdale (pictured), Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Retail sales in November recorded their poorest performance for 21 months, with pretty dire results for items deemed less essential dragging overall retail sales into negative territory. Grocery sales grew but at a less pronounced pace than witnessed during the summer and early autumn. The gulf between food and non-food categories became starker, with the latter sinking markedly – to a twenty-year low – despite Black Friday discounting and the proximity to Christmas.

“Food fared reasonably well but retailers now face a nerve-wracking few weeks leading up to the crucial festive season, after what has been a bruising year for many.”