Retail sales ‘run out of puff’ with October decline

Sales in Scotland fell flat in October, with retailers recording a decline for the first time since spring.

Total sales in Scotland were down 0.2% compared with last year and down 0.6% on a like-for-like basis.

It follows five months of recorded increases from May to September, according to the Scottish Retail Consortium-KPMG monthly Scottish Retail Sales Monitor.

Sales of food, mobile phones and gaming products were steady but clothing and footwear faltered despite widespread discounts and promotions, while household appliances and furniture also fared poorly.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “After a positive run over the previous five months Scottish retail sales ran out of puff in October, recording an essentially flat performance once shop price deflation is taken into account.

“The growth in grocery eased back markedly, with non-food sales lethargic once again.

“Retailers will be hoping this dampening of consumer demand reflects only a temporary pause for breath, perhaps in anticipation of sharper deals becoming available in the Black Friday sales later this month.”

Paul Martin, head of retail in Scotland for KPMG, said: “Some retailers have already been forced to bring forward planned promotional activity and flash sales to encourage spending but it doesn’t appear to have had the desired effect.

“As we approach the most important time of the year for retailers, some tough decisions will need to be made between volume of sales and profit.

“Many in the retail community will also be looking ahead to December’s Scottish budget in the hope announcements will be made to ease pressure on businesses and provide financial relief for Scottish consumers.”