Heavy discounting lifts Scottish high street sales

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Heavy discounting on winter coats and sturdy footwear lifted sales on Scotland's high streets last month, according to a closely-watched survey.

The SRC-KPMG sales monitor found total sales were up by 1% year-on-year in October.

Food sales rose by 2.5%, while non-food sales fell by 0.2%.

Adjusted for the estimated effect of online sales, non-food was up by 1.7% - the best performance since January, excluding Easter "distortions".

The Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) said the "sprightly" set of results showed "a more broadly based pick-up in demand" across retail sub-sectors.

Fashion led the way in the non-food category, followed by beds, home textiles, kitchenware, mobile phones and televisions.

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SRC suggested retailers used "keen prices and promotions" to drive footfall

SRC director David Lonsdale said retailers had used "keen prices and promotions" to drive footfall and demand, particularly on winter coats and heavier footwear.

However, he warned that if customers continued to hold out for steep discounts, it would put "severe pressure on retailers' already-thin profit margins".

'Golden quarter'

Mr Lonsdale added: "Overall these figures strike a more optimistic note at the start of the crucial 'golden quarter' trading period that leads up to Christmas.

"However, a big question remains over the future direction of consumer spending.

"The coming weeks and months will be dominated by the general election, Brexit and UK and Scottish budgets.

"Retailers will be hoping policy-makers keep consumer confidence and household disposable incomes uppermost in their minds."

Paul Martin, UK head of retail for KPMG, said: "After a particularly challenging and prolonged period of uncertainty, the latest figures provide some reassurance and confidence.

"The next few months will be crucial for Scotland's high streets, as shoppers prepare for the festive spending period.

"A concerted effort from retailers has laid the foundations for a positive quarter."