Scots retail sales overtake UK following Brexit vote

Sales growth in Scotland outpaced the UK between July and September. Picture: John Devlin
Sales growth in Scotland outpaced the UK between July and September. Picture: John Devlin
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Scotland experienced slightly better sales growth than the UK as a whole in the three months immediately after the Brexit vote.

In the period from July to September, official figures show that the volume of sales rose by 2.1 per cent in Scotland, compared to UK growth of 1.8 per cent.

The value of sales also increased by 2.1 per cent, slightly above the 2 per cent growth recorded in the UK.

Euan Murray, relationship director at Barclays Corporate Banking in Scotland, said the third quarter of 2016 had been “a broadly positive period in the retail space with food and non-food categories both feeling the benefits”.

He added: “Consumer confidence appeared to grow despite the result of the EU referendum, which it was feared would dampen spending. The supermarkets were the biggest winners over the quarter with sales volumes on the up.

“We will be watching the sector with interest as the inevitable post-Brexit price rises from retailers gradually trickle down to the consumer.”

READ MORE: ‘Disappointing’ August for Scottish retail sales

The volume of retail sales in Scotland in the period July to September was 4.9 per cent higher than the same three months of 2015, although the UK as a whole achieved higher year-on-year growth of 5.4 per cent.

Scotland also lagged behind in growth in sales value over the year, with an annual increase of 3.2 per cent compared to the 3.7 per cent rise recorded across Britain.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “It is worth noting these sales figures are not adjusted for inflation, which is now at a two-year high.

“When that inflationary pressure is combined with at best modest wage growth, consumers will be very aware of any changes in personal taxation which could affect their disposable income. Retailers who are dependent on customers are just as aware of this.”

He added: “Therefore, with all the uncertainty facing the economy, the Scottish Government needs to provide reassurance to consumers they won’t be hit in the pocket by any unexpected tax rises; and they should also carefully consider their current tax policies to discern whether they are the right choices to grow the Scottish economy.”

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