Retail sales gloom for Scotland’s economy

HIGH street retailers endured more economic gloom in the run-up to Christmas, as sales slumped during the final three months of 2012, new figures show.

The volume of retail sales, which counts the amount of goods sold in Scotland, fell by 0.5 per cent between October and December, compared with the previous three months.

Scotland fell behind the UK during the final quarter of 2012, with sales volume figures dipping by 0.4 per cent for the UK, the retail sales index showed.

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Year-on-year sales volume, which compares the final quarters of 2011 and 2012, rose by 0.7 per cent in Scotland, compared with growth of 1.4 per cent annually for the UK.

The value of retail sales, which counts the amount of money made from goods sold, was the same as the previous quarter for 2012, in figures that paint a gloomy picture for Scotland’s economy.

Retail sales value for the final quarter of 2012 was 1.1 per cent higher than that for the same period in 2011, according to the figures published yesterday.

The value of UK retail sales increased by 0.1 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2012, and grew by 2.1 per cent annually, indicating that Scotland was slipping behind Britain.

The Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) has published a series of reports that said an ailing economy accounted for Scotland’s relatively poor performance compared with the UK as a whole.

Richard Dodd, of the SRC, warned that squeezed incomes and soaring household bills would continue to restrict spending and harm sales throughout 2013.

He said: “The trend is one of weak sales and a relentlessly tough year in 2012 for Scottish retail. People were reluctant to spend throughout 2012 and retailers in Scotland did less well than those in the UK as a whole.

“The truth is that the basic conditions that made life so difficult are likely to continue … all of this will continue to curtail people’s ability to spend.”

Finance secretary John Swinney said: “The retail sector can be assured that this government is doing all we can to maintain Scotland’s position as the most supportive business environment in the UK.

“The Small Business Bonus Scheme and other reliefs combined give Scottish business a real competitive edge. They are worth more than £500 million annually and benefit two out of every five commercial premises in Scotland.”