Scotland business

Scottish shoppers 'stick to the essentials'

Shopper outside retail outlet
The consortium said that many people were still afraid to spend when they do not need to

Latest retail figures for Scotland in February were "less bad" than the previous months but suggest shoppers are sticking to essentials.

According to the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) total sales were down 0.6%.

However, the fall was not as bad as previous months although the SRC said it was still the worst February performance since the survey began.

Food sales did well as people stocked up after the festive season.

Total food sales grew by 3.4% compared with a year ago although the SRC said this was lower than the rate of inflation, so customers actually bought less than a year ago.

Non-food sales fell by 4.4% and the SRC said the big ticket items, including white goods, suffered the most.

On the like-for-like measure, which strips out the effect of new store openings, all sales fell by 1.7%, non-food dropped by 4.8% and food sales grew by 1.6%.

On all measures retail sales in Scotland were weaker than in the UK as a whole.

Retail gloom

Ian Shearer, director of the SRC, said: "Food did better than in January as people restocked but most non-food goods struggled seriously.

"Especially for big-ticket items, it's taking margin-sapping discounts to generate the sales that are happening because many customers are still afraid to spend where they don't have to."

David McCorquodale, head of retail in Scotland for KPMG, said: "Until an upturn is truly felt through jobs, wages or net income, it seems that no level of promotion or discounting from the retailer can really lift the gloom.

"Many retailers feel they are fighting hard just to stand still at best and don't see any light at the end of the tunnel."

He added: "However, there are retailers out there who deliver what the customer wants and needs - in terms of product, brand and price - which proves that if the proposition is spot-on it is still possible to outperform the market and the competition."

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