Sunshine pushes retail sales growth to five-year high

Shopping in summer

Scottish retail sales increased by 0.1% last month according to the latest SRC-KPMG Scottish Retail Sales Monitor for July 2018.

This was on a like-for-like basis compared to July 2017, when sales increased by 1.3%. The figure is below the three-month average of 1.4%.

Total sales in Scotland increased by 1.1% compared with July 2017, when they had increased by 0.7%. This is above the 12-month average of 0.6% and brings the three-month average to 2.2%, the highest since October 2013. Adjusted for deflation measured at 0.3% by the BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index (SPI), July sales increased by 1.4%.

Total Food sales increased 5.6% versus July 2017, when they had increased by 4.2%. This is the highest growth since July 2013 excluding Easter distortions, and above both the three-month average of 4.9% and the 12-month average of 4.3%. The three-month and 12-month averages are above the UK’s levels of 4.5% and 3.8% respectively.

Total Non-Food sales decreased 2.4% compared to July 2017, when they had decreased by 2.0%. This is below the three-month average increase of 0.1%, the highest since March 2014, and in line with the 12-month average of -2.4%.

Adjusted for the estimated effect of Online sales, Total Non-Food sales decreased by 0.5% in July versus July 2017, when they had decreased by 0.4%. On a three-month basis, the Online-adjusted Total Non-Food sales increased by 2.0%, the highest since March 2014, ahead of the UK increase of 1.2%.

David Lonsdale, Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, commented: “Sales in July slipped back slightly from the previous month’s stellar performance, but still saw a credible real terms rise of 1.4%. Shoppers continued to enjoy the super summer weather with gin, ice, and electric fans all selling well.

“Food sales were particularly strong, with the highest July figures for five years. Consumers continued to buy food for picnics and barbeques, along with summer drinks. On a three-month basis, Food sales were also stronger in Scotland than in the UK overall.

“Non-food sales were less impressive, falling back in line with the longer-term trend. That’s a little disappointing after a strong summer. Whilst it’s a little early to worry, this could be a warning light on the dashboard.

“With the European Championships in Glasgow and the Edinburgh Festival there are reasons to be optimistic for August’s sales. However, with interest rates rising, and household incomes continuing to be under strain, policy makers should continue to exercise caution when considering any further burdens on consumers.”