Tough time for retailers as Black Friday effect wanes
13 December 2017, 06:38 | Updated: 13 December 2017, 07:24
Black Friday was not enough to boost November's Scottish retail sales, which were down on the previous year, according to new figures.
Last month Scottish sales decreased by 1.3% on a like-for-like basis compared to November 2016, when they had decreased by 0.2% on the previous year.
Total sales in Scotland declined by 0.6% compared with November 2016 when they had declined by 1.5%, the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) KPMG Scottish Retail Sales Monitor for November 2017 showed.
When adjusted for deflation, measured at 0.1% by the BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index (SPI), November sales declined by 0.5%.
While total food sales increased, total non-food sales decreased last month.
The report said that Black Friday's evolution into a week-long affair has had a "damaging effect" on the footfall seen in-stores as shoppers waited for the heavy discounts and found online shopping more convenient.
Retail experts suggested Black Friday may be losing its appeal and said December would be a "make-or-break" month for retailers.
Ewan MacDonald-Russell, Head of Policy and External Affairs at the SRC said: "Black Friday wasn't enough to boost November's Scottish retail sales, with figures flagging by 0.5% in real terms. Despite that week's sales being 40% higher than the November average it wasn't enough to help beleaguered high street stores match last year's performance.
"As expected, Black Friday sales were concentrated online, with footfall figures not especially higher for the week. However, with Black Friday falling earlier before Christmas this year, and for many customers before payday, we haven't seen the growth of recent years.
"That's a disappointment for retailers hoping the relatively weak sales in the autumn were due to consumers waiting for the best bargains."
He added: "These are the final sales figures before Christmas, and they will leave Scottish retailers feeling very nervous about what is now a make-or-break December. With that in mind the Scottish Government need to be mindful of fragile business and consumer confidence when announcing their Budget later this week.
"Stiff tax rises for either is likely to hit consumer spending in the short term, and in the long term could be very harmful to the Scottish economy."
The figures showed that total food sales in November increased 4.2% versus November 2016, when they had remained static.
Total non-food sales declined 4.4% compared to November 2016, when they had decreased by 2.7%.
When adjusted for the estimated effect of online sales, total non-food sales declined by 2.6% compared to November 2016, when they had increased by 1.1%.
Craig Cavin, Head of Retail in Scotland at KPMG said: "A 4.4% decline in non-food sales suggests the novelty of 'Black Friday' may have worn off for consumers.
"The now week-long extravaganza has perhaps left customers fatigued, with many choosing to shop online, rather than instore.
"However, while Black Friday boosted sales following a poor October - particularly in electrical goods - retailers must be careful. What started as a one day experience has turned into at least a week of sales.
"Scotland's bargain hunting customers may come to expect discounted goods for much longer periods than were previously on offer, which has a significant impact on retailer margins."
A Scottish Government spokesman said: "We are doing everything within our powers to support our economy, including our retailers. For example, this year we have reduced the business rates poundage by 3.7% and funded total rates relief of around £660 million, including the Small Business Bonus Scheme which will lift 100,000 properties out of rates altogether.
"We have also gone beyond the recent Barclay Review recommendations with new measures to drive investment. In addition to the growth accelerator, which will mean businesses pay no rates increases for the first year on new and improved properties, we will ensure every new-build property does not pay a penny in rates until it is occupied for the first time.
"The UK Government is cutting our discretionary block grant by £2.6 billion in real terms over the 10 years to 2019-20. The serious economic threat posed by Brexit, coupled with continuing UK Government austerity following the UK Government's budget last month, means we are seeing increasing pressure on our public services.
"Following a careful and considered conversation around income tax, we will publish a balanced package of tax and spending proposals as part of the draft budget on December 14.
"Further detail, including confirmation of the rates poundage for next year, will be confirmed in the Draft Budget this week."