Shoppers hang on to cash in run-up to Christmas

CONSUMERS kept their money in their pockets last month as they continued to save for Christmas, according to data published today.
Retailers festive campaigns are now in full swing. Picture: PARetailers festive campaigns are now in full swing. Picture: PA
Retailers festive campaigns are now in full swing. Picture: PA

Scottish like-for-like retail sales, which take into account stores opening or expanding, fell by 0.5 per cent in October, slowing from the 0.8 per cent drop during September.

October’s total sales grew by 2.1 per cent, accelerating from the previous month’s 1.8 per cent increase.

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Fiona Moriarty, pictured right, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, which compiled the data, said: “These figures show there’s all to play for as Christmas approaches. It’s reassuring to see a partial pick-up in growth after a disappointing slowdown in the previous month, but it’s clear many households are still feeling the squeeze and keen to keep some money aside for seasonal spending.

“Retailers will be hoping this very tentative boost gains some momentum as many of us start thinking about making some headway on our Christmas lists.”

David McCorquodale, head of retail at accountancy firm KPMG, added: “October was a cautious month on the Scottish high streets, with honours even between the consumer and retailer.

“With little more than six weeks until Christmas, retailers’ festive campaigns are now in full swing. They need the weather to cool and confidence to burgeon to encourage shoppers to spend and give Christmas 2013 that much-needed feel-good factor.

“I remain cautiously optimistic and feel the level of discounting may be less than in previous seasons – time will tell if the retailer will hold firm for margin or give way with bargains.”