Food sales grow but retailers struggle in 'challenging' January

14 February 2018, 08:43

edinburgh shoppers

Food sales rose last month but decreased in all other categories, according to Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) figures.

The sales monitor covering the four weeks from December 31 to January 27 showed Scottish sales fell by 0.7% on a like-for-like basis compared with January 2017.

Total sales in Scotland decreased by 0.1% compared with the same period last year.

However total food sales increased by 4.2%.

Ewan MacDonald-Russell, SRC head of policy and external affairs, said: "January is always a challenging month for retailers after the vital Christmas period, and 2018 was no different.

"Overall there was a real-terms rise in sales of 0.3%, but below the three and twelve month averages.

"As with previous months, the rise in food sales is the driving force behind this growth, with the 4.2% rise bringing the twelve-month average to the highest point in over six years.

"That rise is still being lifted by food price inflation, but traditional Scottish products did well, including strong haggis sales as customers toasted the Bard of Ayrshire."

Total non-food sales declined 3.6% compared with January 2017.

Adjusted for the estimated effect of online sales, they fell by 2.5%.

On a three-month basis, the online-adjusted total non-food sales decreased by 1.7%, below the UK decline of 0.6%.

Retail analysts said consumers continue to be careful with their spending at a time of uncertainty.

Craig Cavin, head of retail in Scotland at KPMG, said: "Retailers will be glad to see the back of January.

"Although it wasn't as bleak as some predicted, overall sales still declined by 0.1%.

"Some retailers tempted customers into store using discounting and the introduction of new season lines, yet non-food sales declined 3.6% compared to last year.

"Sales will have been impacted by both the tightening of purse strings post-Christmas, as well as a flurry of snowstorms dissuading shoppers from visiting the high street."