Retail Sales Down 2%

16 September 2015, 06:00

Retailers face an "incredibly challenging'' trading environment, with total sales in August 2.4% down on last year, according to a new report.

The SRC-KPMG Scottish Retail Sales Monitor said that sales last month were weak compared with August 2014 when they were boosted by events like the end of the Commonwealth Games.

Like-for-like sales, which exclude any spending in stores which opened or closed in the intervening year, decreased by 2.9% on last August, when they had decreased by 1.7%.

When adjusted for deflation measured by the BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index (SPI), total Scottish sales decreased by 1.1%.

There was also a drop in total food sales and total non-food sales.

David Martin, head of policy and social affairs at the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC), said: ``Despite an uptick in consumer confidence, August sales performance pales in comparison to the like-for-like performance a year earlier when major events, like the finale to the Commonwealth Games, helped to drive footfall.

"Although retailers had a tougher time during August getting consumers to spend, the three-month rolling average for total sales was the best recorded since May and suggests a general improvement across the longer-term.

"Nevertheless, the trading environment remains incredibly challenging for retailers, especially for those selling food.''

Total food sales last month were 3% down on August 2014, when they had decreased by 1.8%, and an improvement on July this year.

When adjusted for the estimated effect of online sales in Scotland, total non-food sales decreased by 0.5% on August 2014, when they had increased by 2.8%, their second fastest growth in 2014, excluding Easter distortions.

The three-month average for total non-food sales growth was 0.6% (online adjusted) in Scotland compared to 3% in the UK as a whole.

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: "High street sales in Scotland were weak on all fronts during August with very little glimmer amidst the gloom.

"Despite being against a relatively strong post-Commonwealth Games, pre-referendum comparative for August 2014, the decline in sales in August is worse than both the three-month and the 12-month averages.

"The usual culprit to blame for poor sales - the weather - was not at fault this month as both temperatures and sunshine hours were at or above average for the month.''