News

16 Sep 2021

Scotland: Lifting of Covid restrictions did not lead to a retail sales boom

The lifting of Covid restrictions in Scotland did not lead to a retail sales boom, according to new figures from the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC).

Kep points from the SRC-KPMG Scottish Retail Sales Monitor for August 2021 are as follows: 

  • In August, Scottish sales increased by 3.4% on a Like-for-like basis compared with August 2020, when they had decreased by 8.9%. This is below the 3-month average increase of 16.1% and the 12-month average of 8.0%.
  • Total sales in Scotland increased by 3.2% compared with August 2020, when they had decreased by 7.5%. This was below the 3m average growth of 18.1% and below the 12-month average of 9.2%.
  • Total Food sales increased 0.5% versus August 2020, when they had increased by 1.5%. August was below the 3-month growth of 1.2% and the 12-month average growth of 2.2%. The 3-month average was below the UK level of 2.9%.
  • Total Non-Food sales increased by 5.4% in August compared with August 2020, when they had decreased by 15.1%. This was below the 3-month average growth of 32.3% and the 12-month average growth of 15.1%.
  • Adjusted for the estimated effect of Online sales, Total Non-Food sales increased by 3.1% in August versus August 2020, when they had decreased by 1.7%. This is below the 3-month average growth of 30.4% and the 12-month average growth of 27.6%. This was higher than the UK’s 3m average growth of 10.3%.

David Lonsdale, Director, Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “August witnessed a further uptick in Scottish retail sales compared to the admittedly sombre comparable month last year, albeit the performance was softer than earlier in the summer and much of the momentum dissipated. The ending of physical distancing and removal of the cap on numbers allowed in-store a third of the way through the month failed to bring the anticipated boost, with retail sales still languishing almost a tenth below pre-pandemic levels.

“Fashion categories such as clothing, footwear and cosmetics were the standout performers, bolstered by the return of socialising and occasions such as weddings, along with staycations, the good weather, and the return to school. Other non-food categories saw sales wane, especially of larger items such as furniture, white goods, and electricals. Grocery sales nudged up a smidgeon, buoyed in part by BBQs as Scots took advantage of the good weather. However, this was the weakest growth in food since May, as eating out with friends and family became more prevalent.

“These figures are somewhat discomforting as we hurtle towards what is traditionally the crucial golden quarter of shopping in the lead up to Christmas, when many stores generate the revenues required to tide them through the leaner months early in the new year. Much of the industry continues to suffer from a protracted weakness in demand, particularly those more reliant on the hustle and bustle of traditionally high footfall locations in our city centres. The pressure on retailers to deliver a strong Christmas performance will only become more acute if a sustained increase in demand isn’t seen soon. This should prompt policy makers to consider what immediate action they could take to entice shoppers back and help consumer confidence and spending take wing.”

Download the full report

Here's what the British Retail Consortium said for the same period in England


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