'Frightening' figures as Halloween fails to boost Scotland's high streets

Scotland’s retail sector suffered some “frightening” figures last month as the return of Halloween failed to boost store-owners’ fortunes.

New industry figures, released today, show that total sales rose by just 2 per cent compared with October 2020, when they had fallen by 8.5 per cent. This was below both the three-month and 12-month average growth rates.

On a two-year basis, total retail sales continue to perform well below pre-pandemic levels, with sales down 11.3 per cent compared with October 2019.

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David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC), said: “Not even the return of Halloween and guising could lift Scottish retail sales last month as frightening figures showed an 11 per cent slump compared to the similar trading period prior to the pandemic.

Shoppers pictured on Edinburgh's famous Princes Street. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA WireShoppers pictured on Edinburgh's famous Princes Street. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
Shoppers pictured on Edinburgh's famous Princes Street. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

“It was a month when households contended with spikes in the cost of living, notably energy bills and prices at the petrol pump, as well as the end of furlough, and as parts of the retail industry were challenged by shipping and stock shortages.”

The latest sales monitor from the SRC and KPMG revealed that total food sales decreased 1.3 per cent, compared with October 2020, while total non-food sales rose by 4.8 per cent.

Paul Martin, partner, UK head of retail at KPMG, added: “Scotland’s consumer spending remains some way off pre-pandemic levels. With Christmas fast approaching, Scottish retailers will be hoping for confident consumers to step through the doors and shop online during what is always a critical period of trading.”

Meanwhile, the latest Addleshaw Goddard Business Monitor report - produced in partnership with the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute - showed a second consecutive quarter of growth in all sectors of the economy.

The research also found that 56 per cent of companies have committed to achieving net-zero, with 3 per cent already having made the mark.

Mairi Spowage, director of the Fraser of Allander Institute, said: “Businesses see the opportunities as well as the challenges that a push towards more sustainable practices and investment behaviour will have, and an increasing proportion recognise the part they have to play in the decarbonisation of our economy.”

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