Tough times continue on Scottish high street

Ewan MacDonald-Russell of the SRC
Ewan MacDonald-Russell of the SRC
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The challenging conditions on the high street continued into last month with a fall in the overall value of sales north of the Border.

The latest retail sales monitor from the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) and KPMG – published today – reveals a 1 per cent fall in sales on a like-for-like basis, compared to October 2016.

Total sales, which factor in new store openings and extra selling space, dipped by 0.8 per cent, year-on-year.

The weak performance came despite the highest food growth recorded in four years last month.

Ewan MacDonald-Russell, head of policy and external affairs at the SRC, said: “Halloween wasn’t enough to stave off hard times on the high street for non-food retailers who suffered the most challenging month’s performance in almost five years.

“The gap between grocery and non-food sales continues to grow. Food sales are still relatively strong, although still being partially driven by inflation.”

Adjusted for the estimated effect of online sales, total non-food takings fell by 4.4 per cent versus October 2016, when they had increased by 1.7 per cent.

Craig Cavin, head of retail in Scotland for KPMG, added: “Retailers will be disappointed with October’s figures. Unseasonably mild weather, coupled with Black Friday looming and limited promotional activity in October, meant retailers failed to persuade customers to open their wallets. Big ticket electrical launches timed for Christmas will play a role in recovering non-food losses.”