Scottish retail sales ‘slip to weakest performance since end of lockdown’

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SALES for the retail sector in Scotland have slipped to the weakest performance since lockdown ended in June, according to experts.

Figures in the latest Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC)-KPMG Scottish Retail Sales Monitor indicate total sales were down 8.5% last month compared to October 2019 when they had decreased by just 0.4%.

Total food sales increased 4.4% in October 2020 (compared to just 2.6% in the same month last year) which was the highest growth since March when figures were said to have been inflated by stockpiling – while total non-food sales also decreased by 19.3%.

It comes after total sales were down 6% in September, 7.5% in August, 8.3% in July and 18.6% in June.

Paul Martin, KPMG partner, said: “October’s data perfectly reflects the crisis facing Scotland’s High Streets.

“Accelerated growth in food sales provides some evidence that a tightening of restrictions and growing fears of a return to lockdown are encouraging stockpiling, but it isn’t enough to halt an overall decline.

“With non-food sales down by more than 19 percent and total year-on-year sales down almost seven percent, retailers are facing a daily fight for survival.

“Shifting consumer behaviour, driven by Brexit and Covid-19 uncertainty is having an unprecedented impact on Scotland’s retail industry.

“We’re just a week away from Black Friday and in the middle of the so-called ‘Golden Quarter’, when the sector typically witnesses its biggest gains.

“This winter, to simply survive, retailers will have to double down on innovative strategies, pivot towards profitable online revenue growth and work even harder to tempt some shoppers back to physical retail spaces.”

Convenience store and grocery sales fared well with temporary restrictions on eating out while sales of electronics, household goods and home office products remained high with continued “work from home” advice.

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