finance

June sales edge closer to pre-pandemic levels



Total retail sales in Scotland decreased by 3% on a two-year basis compared with June 2019, when they had decreased by 2.3%.

The latest Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) and KPMG figures showed that this was above the three-month average decline of 6% and below the 2019 average decline of 0.2%.

Total food sales increased 5.5% versus June 2019, when they had increased by 0.8%.

June was above the three-month growth of 3.1% and the 2019 average growth of 2.4%.

Total non-food sales decreased by 10.1% last month compared with June 2019, when they had decreased by 4.8%. This was above the three-month average decline of 13.5% and the 2019 average decline of 2.4%.

Adjusted for the estimated effect of online sales, total non-food sales decreased by 12.8% in June versus June 2019, when they had decreased by 3.4%.

This is below the three-month average decline of 12.1% and the 2019 average decline of 1.4%.

SRC director David Lonsdale said that this modest improvement was still the best monthly performance since the onset of Covid-19.

“That said, retail sales remained a touch below pre-pandemic levels with the shallowest monthly decline in 16 months, which serves to underline the protracted nature of the industry’s climb back to recovery.

“The European football championships gave a fillip to sales of televisions as well as food and drink, and fashion categories did slightly better than of late driven by the return of some aspects of socialising.”

However, he noted that weak footfall, a lack of foreign holidays and larger gatherings, as well as the absence of a return to offices, continues to hold back categories such as formal wear, beachwear and beauty products.

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“Looking forward, retailers will be buoyed by the continued success with the vaccination roll-out and the greater re-opening of the economy and easing of restrictions, especially on events and return to offices,” commented Lonsdale.

“Thousands of jobs in Scottish stores and in the supply chain ultimately depend on the ongoing support of the Scottish public, and that support over the coming weeks and months will determine the future vibrancy of our retail destinations and city centres.”

Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said: “Scottish retailers are still contending with restrictions and the absence of many traditional drivers of summer footfall, such as holidays abroad – so while the picture improved slightly, the widening gap between food and non-food sales shows many consumers continued to choose home over the high street in June.

“But, in this climate, incremental successes must be welcomed, and this week’s nationwide drop to level zero could push retail sales into growth mode.

“If this happens, we will enter a new phase of the sector’s recovery from Covid-19.”

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