‘Disappointing’ August for Scottish retail sales

Total sales in Scotland fell 2.2% last month. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Total sales in Scotland fell 2.2% last month. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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Scottish retail sales were “disappointing” in August, but food bucked the trend as families stayed at home to watch the Rio Olympics, according to new data published today.

The Scottish Retail Sales Monitor from the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) and accountant KPMG found that total sales north of the Border fell 2.2 per cent from August 2015, when they had fallen 2.4 per cent.

Sales fell 0.3 per cent in real terms when adjusted for deflation, measured at 2 per cent by the BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index, and increased 0.1 per cent on a three-month average basis.

READ MORE: Retail concerns ease as sales rebound after June slump

The latter growth was described as “meagre” by SRC director David Lonsdale, who said the study should give politicians “pause for thought as they consider government’s tax and spending plans for the year ahead”.

He added that the grocery category recorded its best three-month average performance in over two years, at 0.6 per cent. For August, total food sales remained negative at minus 0.3 per cent, but improved over the minus 1.6 per cent recorded in July.

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said Scottish food sales in Scotland were “the star performer in an otherwise disappointing month”.

He also looked at the “sluggish” performance of clothing and footwear despite “fairly average” weather during August, and contributing to non-food sales continuing to drop, down by 3.7 per cent from August 2015.

McCorquodale said: “It is beginning to feel like a combination of changes in consumer psychology, the lure of other leisure activities and experiences, and perhaps a lack of inspiration in the fashion world, are impacting momentum and growth in this sector.”

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