Retail sales show signs of recovery

blade of grass

Retail sales in January have given Scotland’s retailers a small injection of optimism, with real term sales growth of 1.7% offering some relief to a beleaguered High Street.

The SRC-KPMG Scottish Retail Sales Monitor for January 2021 found that Scottish sales had decreased by 25.2% on a like-for-like basis compared with January 2020, when they decreased by 0.6%. This is below the three-month average decrease of 16.7% and the 12-month average decrease of 13.4%.

Total sales in Scotland decreased by 27.9% compared with January 2020, when they had increased by 0.9%. This was below the three-month average decline of 18.1% and the 12-month average decline of 15.3%. Adjusted for deflation, the decrease was 25.7%.

Total Food sales increased 4.3% versus January 2020, when they had increased by 2.2%. January was above the three-month and 12-month average growth of 4.0%. The three-month average was below the UK level of 7.9%, while the 12-month average was below the UK’s levels of 6.1%.

Total Non-Food sales decreased by 54.8% in January compared to January 2020, when they had decreased by 0.2%. This was below the three-month average decline of 36.7% and the 12-month average decline of 31.3%.

Adjusted for the estimated effect of Online sales, Total Non-Food sales decreased by 26.4% in January versus January 2020, when they had increased by 1.8%. This is below the three-month average decline of 16.4% and the 12-month average decline of 16.8%. Those are lower than the UK’s three-month average decline of 5.6% and 12-month Total average decline of 5.8% respectively.

Ewan MacDonald-Russell, Head of Policy & External Affairs at Scottish Retail Consortium, said it remained to be seen if the uplift will be sustained over the next few months.

He commented: “Food sales were particularly strong, with Hogmanay and Burns Night celebrations during the period, although it’s likely at least some of the 2.7 percent increase was the result of inflation.

“Retailers are craving certainty, a competitive cost environment, and some encouragement for consumers. The Scottish Budget took some positive steps in this direction earlier this month. We hope the new Chancellor will listen to the concerns of retailers and take action to boost consumer spending and reduce the burden on retailers in next months’ UK Government Budget.”