Growth in Scottish retail sales after ‘dreary’ December

Scottish retail sales increased in January following a poor December, according to latest figures.

Statistics published by SRC-KPMG for the period between December 30 and January 26 indicate that sales grew by 2.2%, having fallen by 1.0% in the previous month.

It marks the highest rise since June, when there was an increase of 2.7%, which was notably during a spell of warm weather.

The largest increase was seen in food sales, up by 4.9%, with New Year and Burns Night highlighted as key factors.

There was a more modest increase in non-food sales, with a rise of 0.2%.

Non-food sales fell in December last year by as much as 2.8%.

David Lonsdale, Scottish Retail Consortium director, said: “January saw a welcome return to retail sales growth after what had been an underwhelming end to 2018.

“These figures are slightly distorted by the inclusion of Hogmanay during the reporting period, so it’s too early to say with confidence that retail sales have turned the corner.

“Grocery sales did well, helped by New Year and Burns Night celebrations, both of which encouraged shoppers to stock up on Scottish favourites including steak pies and haggis.

“Non-food retailers saw good performance in homeware and furniture, with consumers looking to freshen up their homes.

“Health-related items also did well, with skincare products to combat the cold weather and vitamins and diet goods supplementing consumers’ New Year health ambitions.

“Nonetheless, it’s important to note a good January doesn’t offset a disappointing November and December, which are the crucial trading months.

“Consumers continue to be careful with their spending at a time when political and economic uncertainty dominate the headlines, and with council tax and other cost of living rises in the pipeline.

“Policymakers should keep household spending pressures upmost in their minds over the next few months as a result.”

Paul Martin, KPMG, said: “Following a dreary December for retailers, January brought a glimmer of hope.

“Shoppers took full advantage of winter discounts which boosted sales, but these figures are also a reminder that consumers are prepared to wait for heavy discounts before purchasing, putting further pressure on retailers.

“The festive period is now well and truly a distant memory and retailers will be doing all they can to adapt and remain agile in this rapidly evolving market”.