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Retail revival is a damp squib, finds report


Retail sales in June were down by almost a fifth compared with last year in a fourth successive month of double-digit decline, according to the latest SRC-KPMG Scottish Retail Sales Monitor.

The report found total sales in Scotland last month were down 18.6% in comparison with June 2019 (1.9%).

Sales were down 27.6% in May, which was an improvement on the record low recorded in April (32.2%). Sales fell 13% in March, which only included the first week of lockdown.

Total food sales for June 2020 increased by 4% compared with 12 months previously, when they had decreased by 0.5%.

Despite a 37.3% drop in total non-food sales last month, when adjusted for the estimated effect of online sales the June 2020 figure instead becomes a 19.4% decrease.

Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) director David Lonsdale said: “While positive for some retailers, at least in the short-term, any prolonged absence of office workers from our city and town centres has portents for stores in those areas who rely on such custom, and who may also have suffered from a loss of tourist traffic and students recently.

“Going forward, the permitted reopening of shops, malls and eateries over recent weeks should help generate more shopper footfall and lift retail sales figures.

“However, more needs to be done, in particular to bring the energy and footfall back into our city centres.”

He added: “Tens of thousands of shops and hundreds of thousands of jobs in retail directly and the supply chain more widely ultimately depend on the ongoing support of the Scottish public.

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“That support from shoppers in the coming months will determine the future and vibrancy of our high streets and retail destinations for years to come. Early indications suggest that any retail revival may be slow and gradual.”

Sales of laptops and accessories and home electricals continued to do well, with people still working from home or remote learning.

Home entertainment such as gaming and toys also performed well, along with DIY and grocery sales.

Clothing and footwear were among the markets to fare poorly, especially more formal attire and holiday-related items.

Paul Martin, KPMG UK head of retail, said: “It’s clear the easing of lockdown has failed to kick-start a full recovery in Scotland’s retail sector.

“Despite a positive 4% growth in total food sales and categories including technology and sports equipment witnessing increasing demand, the overall outlook remains incredibly depressed, particularly for clothing retailers.

“The shift to online sales has helped offset some of the challenges but the situation remains critical for many of the country’s highest profile brands as well as independent retailers.”

He added: “As we slowly enter the final phase in Scotland’s lockdown, we’re confident that conditions will continue to improve.

“But a concerted, collaborative effort from the industry and political leaders, will be essential if we’re to reverse the long-term downward trend and return to sustainable growth in the country’s high streets.”



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