Scottish retail buoyed by ‘very modest’ November sales jump

Scottish retail industry bosses are “cautiously optimistic” after a modest increase in sales last month.

When stripping out the Black Friday effect, the like-for-like sales increase amounted to 0.1 per cent. Picture: John Devlin.

The latest data from the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) and KPMG found that stripping out the timing of Black Friday (the retail event did not fall in the period this year but did last year) – adjusted sales growth was estimated at 0.8 per cent, above both the three-month and 12-month average corrected declines of 0.2 per cent and 0.1 per cent respectively. “We estimate that when adjusting for Black ­Friday, like-for-like growth was 0.1 per cent.”

However, total unadjusted sales north of the Border decreased by 2.5 per cent compared with November 2018, when they had decreased by 1.6 per cent.

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Ewan MacDonald-Russell, head of policy and external affairs at the SRC, said: “Once adjustments for Black Friday are considered, retailers will be cautiously optimistic after a November which looks like it matched 2018. After a difficult autumn, this provides a little hope for hard-pressed retailers as we head into the most important trading month of the year.”

When adjusting for the Black Friday distortion, non-food decline was 0.7 per cent in November, while online-adjusted total non-food growth was 1.1 per cent.

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“Retailers’ concerns about stretched consumer spending is being exacerbated by the risks of increasing public policy costs. With voters heading to the polls this week, we hope political leaders will prioritise the interests of consumers in the coming months by focusing on supporting households and keeping down costs for retailers.”

Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said November’s figures make “troubling reading”, but noted that when adjusted for the timing of retail events, there would have been “very modest” growth.

He added: “There is no escaping the challenges facing ­Scottish retailers. The sector is working tirelessly to regain lost ground, with the next few weeks crucial as the industry looks to deliver positive results in what for many is the most important trading period of the year.”