Black Friday can’t deliver cheer for Scottish stores

Last month’s Black Friday retail extravaganza turned out to be damp squib for Scottish stores, which saw their sales fall despite the hordes of bargain hunters.

SRC director David Lonsdale highlighted sales bright spots. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
SRC director David Lonsdale highlighted sales bright spots. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

A growing number of chains have embraced the concept of heavy pre-Christmas discounts, imported from the US where stores seek to lure buyers on the day after Thanksgiving. In many parts of the UK, the event was marred by footage of shoppers scuffling over cut-price televisions and other electrical items.

Although Black Friday saw the number of people taking to Scotland’s high streets rise last month, that did not translate into an increase in sales values, according to the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) and KPMG.

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Figures published today reveal that like-for-like sales in November were 2.6 per cent lower than a year earlier. Food sales were down 3.8 per cent and have now been negative for seven consecutive months in total terms as supermarkets slash prices in response to the challenge from discount chains Aldi and Lidl.

SRC director David Lonsdale said: “The bright spots once again were items such as furniture and household appliances, which recorded their best performance since January, with gaming and beauty products also doing well, driven by early demand ahead of the festive season.”

Today’s data shows that clothing and footwear was the worst performing category for the third month in a row as demand for knitwear struggled amid the unseasonably mild weather.

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: “The weather and consumer behaviour is piling pressure on retailers to deliver Christmas cheer. The decline in November sales shows how hard retail has to fight for [a] share of [the] family wallet.

“With mild weather continuing in November and consumers opting to wait for a bargain before spending, fashion retailers used Black Friday as an outlet to reduce prices, drive volumes and clear stocks. Originally seen as an American gimmick, Black Friday is now fixed in the retail calendar and is being used tactically to drive volume – but at what cost to margin?”