Non food sales down 5.6% on like for like basis
Scottish retail sales dropped by 1.3 per cent year on year in October, new figures from the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) suggest.
The SRC said the drop in sales was the worst since January, and when price inflation was factored in, sales were down 2.8 per cent in real terms.
Non food sales in Scotland in October were down 5.6 per cent year on year on a like-for-like basis – stripping out new store openings – and in total sales terms, non food was down 4.7 per cent.
Food sales rose by 0.3 per cent year on year on a like-for-like basis, with total food sales for October up 2.3 per cent, which helped to hold the overall total sales drop to minus 1.3 per cent.
Scottish figures compare less favourably with the rest of the UK, where total sales are reported to have risen by 1.1 per cent year on year in October.
Total sales recorded for October 2011 in Scotland were minus 0.1 per cent and total sales had decreased 1.5 per cent.
Commenting on the latest figures, Fiona Moriarty, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “This really wasn’t the result retailers wanted.
“September’s modest sales boost offered some cause for cautious optimism, but continuing concerns about the economy led many customers to batten down the hatches again in October.
“The non-food category was a tale of two halves. While clothing and footwear performed well, it was a different story for other non-food goods such as electricals and items for the home.
“Household incomes are still being squeezed, and many people will have an eye on saving ahead of Christmas rather than buying big-ticket and discretionary items.
“With consumer confidence at a six-month low, hopes of sales picking up in the run-up to Christmas will hinge on retailers reading the market closely; that means offering customers opportunities for seasonal spending at competitive prices.”
David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, added the latest figures for October “send a worrying signal about the festive season ahead for retailers in Scotland”.
He added: “Excluding April, which was affected by the timing of Easter, October saw the biggest total sales decline since January and, on a like-for-like basis, since May 2011.
“Food and drink sales failed to track inflation and therefore reflected a decline in volumes.
“Despite the cold temperatures in October, clothing and footwear sales had good growth in the first week but then faded in the latter half of the month.
“This shows consumers may have bought into autumn and winter collections but are still too nervous to fill their wardrobes with them.
“The recession may officially be over, but it will take a little longer for consumers to feel they can spend freely again.
“Retailers are holding less stock than a year ago and may choose to be cautious with pre-Christmas sales in order to protect margins.
“However, the disappointing sales figures for October indicate that winning a share of the Christmas wallet will be just as competitive over the next six weeks as it was last year.”