Wednesday, 16 December 2020 00:01

Scottish non-food sales “gathering momentum”

Scottish non-food sales “gathering momentum” Photo: Mikey Jones

Despite a 2.3% year-on-year decrease for Scottish retail sales in November, it is thought they are “gathering momentum” in the build-up to Christmas, with average sales growth at its second-highest level all year.

The latest SRC-KPMG Scottish Retail Sales Monitor found that like-for-like total sales decreased by 2.7% on last November, when they fell 2.6%. However, adjusted for deflation, Scottish sales dropped by 0.1%.

Total food sales were 2.2% down on November 2014 but, adjusted for the effect of online sales, they increased by 0.4%, over a 0.9% rise in the same month last year.

The three-month average total non-foods sales growth was 0.8% in Scotland – its second-highest level this year. However this compares with 3.5% growth in the rest of the UK, and represents a 0.3% widening of the gap seen in October.

David Martin, head of policy and external affairs, said: “Learning the lessons from last year, consumers ducked the frenzy of the Black Friday bargain hunt on the high street and made more of their purchases online in November. As the lines between retail channels become increasingly blurred a disappointing set of headline store figures masks a positive non-food retail performance. The six month rolling average reached 0.7%, its highest level since November 2014, suggestive of Non-Food sales gathering momentum ahead of Christmas.

“Non-food sales were the main beneficiary of the Black Friday bounce and grew by 0.4% once adjusted for the effect of online sales. The evidence suggests that consumers held back their spending in the first few weeks of November in order to capitalise on the deals and offers during the final week of the month.

“Promotions stimulated sales in of cosmetic products and electrical items, as household get ready for Christmas, while consumers continued to spend on big ticket items like furniture.

“The Black Friday event disrupted sales patterns in November and only time will tell what true affect it has had on the build up to Christmas.”

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: “The evidence suggests Scottish consumers are waiting for promoted bargains before committing to spend. The unknown element of this standoff is whether retailers will feed this discount addiction before Christmas, or, hold their nerve and their margins.

“Non-Food sales, adjusted for the effect of online, grew by 0.4% during November, with mid-month demand being weak and uplift driven by significant activity around Black Friday. Most of the Black Friday activity focussed on electricals and household appliances, with online channels proving most popular. The 2.2% decline in Total Food sales is the best performance since June but the grocers will be keen to see better recovery in this segment over the Christmas period.

“With little to cheer from November’s trading, retailers will be hoping for a dry yet chilly run in to Christmas and let the theatre of the store drive sales rather than an internet bombardment of basement bargains. Consumers, on the other hand, will test the resolve in the search for value.”


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