Scottish retail sales face worst fall in a decade

Shoppers in rain The trend is for lower spending but the bad weather in May contributed to the poor retail sales

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Scottish retail sales have suffered their worst fall since records began more than 10 years ago.

The figures from the Scottish Retail Consortium showed that total sales fell by 1.1% in May.

The like-for-like figure, which strips out any distortions created by new store openings, dropped by 3.2%.

The consortium said the strong sales in April had proved to be a blip and consumer confidence in Scotland was weaker than the UK as a whole.

In April total sales grew by 5.5% helped by the good weather and various holidays.

The cold wet May was accompanied by peoples' uncertainties over jobs and their finances, according to the consortium.

It started the survey in 1999 and it said the total sales figures in May were the worst it had ever reported. There were drops in sales right across the board.

Retailers squeezed

Fiona Moriarty, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: "Non-food sales in particular are struggling and shoppers don't have the confidence to spend on big-ticket items.

"Even heavy discounting has failed to help spending on homewares, including furniture and floor coverings, as consumers conserve their cash for more immediate essentials."

David McCorquodale, head of retail in Scotland for KPMG, which sponsors the survey, said many shopkeepers were finding the environment difficult.

He added: "Many retailers have responded with promotions but as they themselves battle with cost inflation and upward rent reviews, the squeeze on margins and lower volumes is negatively affecting their own cashflows."

The Scottish figures are much weaker than those in the UK as whole, where total sales fell 0.3% and like-for-like sales were down by 2.1%.

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