Scotland business

Scottish shops report fall in sales for May

Shoppers Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The figures indicate people continue to visit shops, but spend less each time

A drop in sales has been reported by shops in Scotland.

Like-for-like sales reported in the Scottish Retail Sales Monitor for May were down by 2.7%. Footfall, measuring the number of visits to shops, was actually up on the previous year.

The performance of retailers in Scotland has continued to be poorer than in the rest of the UK.

The Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) said the figures reflect caution on the part of customers.

Food sales had a disproportionate decline, down 3.7% since May 2013. Non-food sales were down by 1.9%.

SRC director David Lonsdale said: "Despite the return of shoppers to Scotland's high streets last month, the growth in footfall simply didn't filter through into an increase in the overall value of retail sales. Scottish consumers clearly remain cautious.

"Clothing and footwear retailers who offered good ranges continued to perform well off the back of new seasonal lines.

"Adjusted for the contribution of online retailing, non-food sales in general increased. However, shops reported that sales of items for homes and gardens dipped in May.

"This, coupled with continuing keen prices and promotions for food, ensured that the total growth of sales in Scotland was weaker than across the UK as a whole."

KPMG, which helps compile the figures, said they were "disappointingly weak".

Head of retail at KPMG David McCorquodale identified three key factors as "a competitive grocery market, mixed weather and localised caution when spending on bigger ticket items".

"Discounts offered by grocers are being snapped up by cost-conscious consumers," he added. "But, from the retailer viewpoint, these are depressing sales and consequently margins and the situation is likely to persist in the short term.

"Fashion and footwear fared best in the non-food category which, adjusting for the inclusion of on-line sales, would have shown growth, albeit muted by mixed weather.

"However, with the gap widening between Scotland's non-food growth in the last quarter and that of the rest of the UK, it appears that the recovery in the South East has yet to gain strength north of the border in terms of meaningful spend in household goods."

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