Retail growth stalls north of border

Scotland’s retailers suffered a “reality check” last month after growth in the sector north of the border fell behind the UK as a whole. The latest SRC-KPMG Scottish Retail Sales Monitor, an index which has been collated every month since 2009, found total sales in Scotland grew by 1.8% in September, with food being the strongest performer with a 2.3% uplift. However, the overall rise was less than the 2.4% increase seen across Britain in the period and represented a significant drop off in performance for shops north of the border following a strong summer for trading. On a like-of-like basis, which strips out the effect of new store openings and closures, sales fell by 0.8% with a 1.3% reduction in food and a 0.3% drop in the non-food category. The UK saw 0.7% growth in the period on the same measure. “Every recovery suffers some form of setback and September’s sales figures in Scotland provide just that,” KPMG’s head of retail David McCorquodale said. “Having matched UK total sales for the past three months, Scotland’s figures fell behind this month. “Food sales grew by just less than inflation but the setback was most felt in clothing and footwear where the warmer, drier weather resulted in consumers holding off replenishing their wardrobes.” Fiona Moriarty, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said traders had enjoyed a good summer but the sector still faced significant challenges on the road to recovery. She said: “After a strong summer, these more subdued figures serve as a reminder that, while recent months have seen some shafts of light, the path to economic recovery remains fragile.”