Shops suffered a 1.8 per cent slump compared with the previous July. Like-for-like sales, which exclude new store openings, were down 3.7 per cent on the previous year which had seen big increases, according to the SRC-KPMG Scottish Retail Sales Monitor.
Supermarkets have been the major casualty as food sales fell steadily in recent months. “Scotland’s high streets saw improved footfall in July, no doubt boosted by Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games,” said David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG. “However, as with the Olympics two years ago, these events may boost the restaurant trade, but don’t always boost high street sales.”
Adjusted for deflation measured by the BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index, total Scottish sales increased by 0.1 per cent in July.
Food sales were 2.8 per cent down last month, compared with the same period last year, when they had increased 5.6 per cent. This is the deepest decline since March.
Over the past three months, total food sales declined by 2 per cent, compared with 0.1 per cent growth over the past 12 months. Non-food sales decreased by 1 per cent on a year earlier, when they had increased 2.6 per cent. However, taking in adjustments for the estimated impact of online sales in Scotland, total non-food sales would have increased by 0.7 per cent, the strongest growth in the past three months.
David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Further discounting across the grocery sector led to a fall in the total value of food sales.
“However, comparisons with last year ought to be tempered as July 2013 was a high-water mark for food-related sales. A number of high-profile sporting successes in the same period last year led to bumper demand for celebratory food and drink.”
Mr McCorquodale said the July sales numbers in Scotland were not as bad as the headlines indicated, given the outside factors at play last year.
“We were basking in a heatwave and a Scottish Wimbledon champion,” he said.
“Clothing and footwear have enjoyed a better spring and early summer this year, and so it is not surprising they have cooled off relatively in the last couple of months against strong figures last year.
“The decline in other non-food items is not as sharp as it was earlier in the year as homeowners feel a little more confident to spend on furniture.”