'Disappointing' October For Scotland's High Streets

18 November 2015, 06:00

High street stores have had a "disappointing'' month, with figures for October showing a slump in sales.

While total sales across the UK were up by 0.9% on the previous year, figures from the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) showed a drop of 2.4% over the course of the year.

Like-for-like-sales, which strip out factors such as new store openings, were 2.8% lower in Scotland, according to the latest SRC KPMG Scottish Retail Sales Monitor.

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said the figures "serve as a sobering reminder of the frailty of the economic recovery''.

He added: "There is no doubt the declines in Scottish retail sales in October, when measured against a relatively weak month last year, are disappointing for retailers when set against mainly dry weather and temperatures only marginally warmer than average.''

Mr McCorquodale said the weather "wasn't cold enough'' for sales of coats or boots to do well, adding that with shoppers "perhaps waiting for heavy promotions, retailers were left pushing themed products for Halloween''.

He stated: "The next few weeks are vital for retailers and, with the tactics around Black Friday and the run-up to Christmas beginning to unfold, it will be interesting to see how much margin needs given up to drive sales volumes.''

Total food sales were down by 3.2% when compared to October 2014, with stores unable to fully benefit from the Rugby World Cup after Scotland went out of the tournament.

With Halloween falling on a Saturday this year, some Scots opted for trick-or-treating rather than shopping.

With Scotland enjoying the driest and sunniest October since 2003, sales of autumn and winter clothing were hampered, although Halloween fancy dress costumes were reported to have sold well.

Shoppers also held back from buying electrical products in anticipation of discounts in the Black Friday sales at the end of this month and total non-food sales for October were down by 1.8% on last year.

SRC director David Lonsdale said: "This rather pallid set of results paints a disappointing October overall for Scotland's retailers, with total retail sales edging down again once falling shop prices are taken into account.

"It could be that shoppers are simply holding out for even better deals in the run-up to Christmas, perhaps with an eye towards potential online discounting at the end of this month, despite the fact that shop prices are already at record lows.

"With the spotlight on the Autumn Statement and the Scottish Budget over the next few weeks, retailers will be hoping for measures which put money in peoples' pockets and which encourage them to invest and grow.''