Sunshine lifts Scots retailers but high street blues persist

Sporting fixtures and sunny weather brought shoppers onto Scottish high streets last month, but experts today warned that the good times were unlikely to last.

Sales rise buoyed by sunny weather and World Cup. Picture: John Devlin

Sales increased by 2 per cent on a like-for-like basis in June, compared with the same month last year, according to the latest retail sales monitor from the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) and KPMG. Total sales, which factor in store openings and changes in selling space, lifted 2.7 per cent, year-on-year.

The total sales rise, which increases further to 3.2 per cent when adjusted for deflation, is the highest monthly growth since January 2014.

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The figures were underpinned by strong food sales, up by 4.8 per cent in total last month, as consumers sought out picnic and barbeque items amid the heatwave.

Total non-food sales were up by 1 per cent – above both the three-month and 12-month averages. Adjusted for the estimated effect of online sales, total non-food sales increased by 2.7 per cent.

Ewan MacDonald-Russell, head of policy and external affairs at the SRC, said: “Some superb weather and a bumper summer of sport saw retail sales continue to shine in June.

“Total sales were up 3.2 per cent in real terms across the month, with positive growth in both food and non-food categories. Scots, perhaps unused to one of the hottest Junes in a century, sought out drinks, fans, barbeques and paddling pools to cool off and enjoy the sunshine.

“Overall, retailers will have welcomed some relief last month. However, whilst it’s fun to get excited by the sunshine, the reality is things are still very challenging for the retail industry.

“The big question is whether shoppers will continue to act so positively once the weather returns to normal. In the autumn retailers will have a clearer sense of whether this was a shoppers’ summer fling or a more serious commitment from consumers.”

Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, added: “June saw the highest monthly growth in sales since January 2014. Soaring temperatures across Scotland, coupled with the World Cup action, are likely to have boosted sales, with outdoor furniture, seasonal clothing and BBQ food and drink flying of the shelves.

“Grocers particularly benefited from the brighter weather, with food sales increasing by 4.8 per cent compared to this time last year. Shorts, dresses and sandals were likely to have been popular, but retailers will still have had to entice shoppers in the door with deeper discounts.

“Despite the uptick, the woes of the high street continued in June, with sales not necessarily guaranteeing profit. As temperatures cool, retailers must look to other ways to maintain growth in a sector undergoing significant change.”