Lacklustre start to golden quarter

Woman shopping

The all-important golden quarter started with a whimper for Scotland’s retailers, with like-for-like sales in October down 0.6% on the same period in 2017.

That’s according to the latest SRC-KPMG Scottish Retail Sales Monitor, covering the four weeks September 30 to October 27, 2018.

Total Food sales increased 2.3% versus October 2017, when they had increased by 4.9%. This is below both the three-month average of 3.3% and the 12-month average of 4.0% and the lowest growth since February 2017 excluding Easter distortions. However, the three-month and 12-month averages are above the UK’s levels of 2.3% and 3.5% respectively.

Commenting on the figures David Lonsdale, Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “After a positive run over the previous five months Scottish retail sales ran out of puff in October, recording an essentially flat performance once shop price deflation is taken into account.

“The growth in grocery eased back markedly, with non-food sales lethargic once again. Retailers will be hoping this dampening of consumer demand reflects only a temporary pause for breath.

“The two months leading up to Christmas account for a fifth of annual retail spend, and these figures strike a cautious note for the rest of this crucial trading period. Consumer demand has often proven a reliable source of economic growth and it’s crucial the Finance Secretary’s upcoming Budget reflects that and seeks to keep down the cost of living as well as the cost of doing business.”

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay will present the 2019-20 Scottish Budget on December 12.