Summer of Olympic glory puts a damper on High Street
Scotland’s high streets suffered an Olympic slump as the Games proved a “major distraction” from shopping, according to latest figures.
August left the country’s retail sector lagging behind by the rest of the UK for the 17th month in a row.
There was a boost in shopping sales south of the Border during the Olympics, but total sales in Scotland were down 0.9 per cent on the same month last year, according to figures released by the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC).
Like-for-like sales, which leave out factors such as new store openings, were down 2.7 per cent. Accounting for inflation, the Olympics month saw a real-terms sales decline of 2 per cent.
SRC economist Richard Lim said: “The Olympics were spectacular, but didn’t produce the much-needed boost to Scottish retail sales. Sales were down on a year ago and even more than they were in July.
“Some sectors suffered less than others. Food sales growth was noticeably better in August than in July. The Games helped sales of party food and drink, but the hot spell in the middle of the month dampened demand for autumn and winter clothing ranges arriving in stores.
“On balance, any gains were more than cancelled out by a big year-on-year drop in sales of non-food goods, which compounded another large fall a year earlier.”
While the Olympics created a “feelgood factor”, it was also a “major distraction from shopping”, Mr Lim said.
“People who were watching on TV or following online were not visiting shops or retail websites,” he added.
“With Scottish retailing underperforming the rest of the UK again, hopes now rest on money not spent this summer making it to tills in the run-up to Christmas.”
Food sales were up 2.4 per cent on August last year, thanks in part to people buying party foods for watching the Olympics. Non-food sales were down 4.1 per cent and 6.7 per cent lower than two years ago – the worst decline since the survey started 13 years ago.
For the 17th consecutive month, retail sales in Scotland lagged behind the UK which recorded a 1.6 per cent increase during August.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said “The retail sector can be assured we are working to maintain Scotland’s position as the most supportive business environment in the UK through actions such as the Small Business Bonus scheme and other reliefs.
“The Scottish Government and our enterprise agencies are working tirelessly to strengthen the economy, with the powers we currently have, and our economic strategy is delivering results. Scotland has a consistently higher employment rate than the UK as a whole, and a stronger GDP performance than the UK over the past six months.”
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Thursday 20 June 2013
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