High street sales suffer ‘washout’ start to the year

Shoppers brave the stormy weather on Buchanan Street, Glasgow. Picture: Robert Perry
Shoppers brave the stormy weather on Buchanan Street, Glasgow. Picture: Robert Perry
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Scottish high streets suffered during a stormy start to the year, with the latest sales figures branded a “washout”.

Total sales in January fell by 3.8 per cent compared with the same month the previous year – the weakest store performance since April 2012.

Like-for-like sales, which strip out factors such as new store openings, decreased by 4 per cent according to the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) and KPMG retail sales monitor.

Total Scottish sales decreased by 2 per cent when adjusted for deflation.

The figures follow a more promising December, when a surge in sales of festive food and drink delivered the best performance for almost two years.

READ MORE: High street hope as festive food flurry buoys stores

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: “Storms battered the Scottish high streets in January, resulting in the weakest performance for some time and a washout to start 2016.

“With the month producing 145 per cent of average rainfall and only 63 per cent of average sunshine, it was one of the wettest and dullest Januaries for a century. As a consequence, total sales were down by 3.8 per cent compared with last year.

“Food sales were particularly badly hit, falling by 5.8 per cent. Having enjoyed one of its best months for a couple of years in December, the grocers will be hoping figures for January were a consequence of the deluge rather than the post-Christmas diet.”

David Lonsdale, director of the SRC, added: “There is no denying that these are dour retail sales figures for January, showing a decline of 2 per cent even once falling shop price inflation is taken into account.

“After the excess of the festive period, which saw solid retail sales growth in December, shoppers were clearly keeping a firm grip on purse strings and wallets in January even as footfall improved.”