Bright news for Scottish high street sales

The SRC's David Martin said April could be challenging. Picture: Contributed
The SRC's David Martin said April could be challenging. Picture: Contributed
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Scots retailers are cheering their most resilient performance in almost a year, helped by the build-up to an early Easter.

New industry figures, published today, show that total sales across the Scottish high street rose by 1.9 per cent last month, once adjusted for food price deflation – the strongest growth since April 2014.

The Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC), which compiles the retail sales monitor, alongside KPMG, said the “holiday bounce” had helped drive up food sales for grocery retailers, while non-food categories has also benefited.

David Martin, head of policy and external affairs at the SRC, said: “Many of us used the bank holiday break to spruce up our homes and gardens, benefiting furniture sales, while health and beauty ranges were popular in March as gifts for Mother’s Day.”

However, there was a warning that this month may prove more of a challenge for shop-keepers as the Easter effect wears off.

“Retailers have now enjoyed the Easter bounce so, looking ahead, April’s figures may prove more challenging,” noted Martin.

“The headwinds of deflation continue to blow hard against retailers working incredibly hard to make gains and while consumer confidence and ­economic growth seem to be going in the right direction, the key to success will be when consumers start to feel it fully in their wallets.”

The March report showed that on a like-for-like basis – stripping out the impact of store openings and expansions, as well as deflation – overall sales fell by 1 per cent, year-on-year.

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: “The early Easter has flattered Scottish sales figures and masked some disappointments. However, there are also positive signs emerging in the detail.

“Food retailers continued their fightback from the problems of last year and were the best performing sector this month. Adjusting for deflation, food sales increased by 1.4 per cent in real terms – the best ­return since Andy Murray won Wimbledon.”