Scotland records worst December sales on record – survey


Scotland’s retail sector is in “crisis” after recording its worst-ever December on record, according to new figures.

Analysis by KPMG shows sales north of the border fell by 14.8% compared with the previous year when adjusted for inflation.

Although shoppers bought more food – an increase of 3.3% on December 2019 – other items decreased by 33.4%.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC), said: “Scotland’s retailers are in the depths of the biggest crisis in two decades after the worst-ever December trading.

“Retail sales fell in real terms by 15%, the worst since June, as lockdowns at the start and end of the month snuffed out hopes of a late rally to end the year.

“Food sales remained positive but recorded their second weakest monthly performance since the spring, underwhelming considering the lack of competition from eateries.

“Non-food sales from stores slumped dramatically, by over a third compared to the same period the previous year.

“Closed stores for much of the month coupled with the loss of the post-Christmas discounting period clobbered non-food shops, removing the final chance for them to tempt customers and shift unsold stock.

“It was a Blue Christmas for retail – and with shopkeepers missing out on much of the golden trading quarter, the pressure on those businesses is reaching boiling point.”

He added that 2020 overall saw the worst trading in the 22-year history of the SRC-KPMG Scottish Retail Sales Monitor, blaming lockdown restrictions.

Total non-food sales decreased by 17.7% in December versus the previous year, when they had increased by 1.5% – adjusted for the estimated effect of online sales.