Scotland business

Scottish retailers: February total sales down by 1%

shopper generic Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Scottish retailers reported a drop in footfall and sales last month

Scottish shoppers shunned the high streets last month despite increasing signs of an improving economy, according to a new report.

Figures from the Scottish Retail Consortium and KPMG showed total sales down by 1% on a year ago.

Food sales were 1.3% down on February 2013, while non-food sales were 0.7% lower.

However, taking account of shop price deflation at 1.4%, February total sales were up 0.5% in real terms.

'Challenging February'

SRC director David Lonsdale said Scottish retailers experienced a "challenging February", following data released earlier this week which showed a 4.1% drop in total footfall last month.

He said: "As in the rest of the UK, we have seen a particularly tough environment in the food market.

"Margins are under pressure and while the intense competition brings benefits to Scottish consumers in terms of keeping prices low, it can be a challenging environment for the businesses involved.

"It is worth remembering that these results follow a strong start to the year in January and within the overall results there are also some categories that are performing strongly.

"Footwear in particular is well ahead of the UK average and online and multi-channel sales are also providing a boost for Scottish retailers."

'Reality check'

KPMG head of retail David McCorquodale commented: "February saw a reality check on the road to recovery as consumers shunned the economic indicators and refused to loosen the spending belts.

"Total food sales suffered their biggest drop, excluding Easter variations, since our records began in January 1999.

"The battle lines are well defined in this sector and price cuts announced in March will filter through in future months to the benefit of the consumer, but at a cost to the retailers and their suppliers in terms of margin."

He added: "In non-food, clothing and footwear had a reasonable mid-season month with the weather wet rather than wintry. Adjusting non-food sales for the estimated effect of a more comprehensive set of online sales hints at modest growth.

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