David Lonsdale, Director, Scottish Retail Consortium:
“These are somewhat bruising figures, with retail sales having shrivelled last month by almost four percent once shop price inflation is taken into account. Shoppers clearly kept a firm grip on purse strings and wallets, unsurprising against a backdrop of rising household costs and political and economic uncertainty.
“Grocery sales ran out of puff, recording their weakest performance in two and a half years and well below the three and twelve month averages. At the more discretionary end of retail spending, non-food purchases fared poorly, especially clothing and footwear which recorded its steepest ever monthly decline. Larger and outdoor items such as garden furniture also struggled. Fewer high profile sporting events this year compared to last contributed to a challenging picture, with sales of mobile phones and cough and cold remedies amongst the few bright spots.
“Retailers are striving to reinvent themselves and respond positively to shifting shopping habits, however that is all the more challenging against a backdrop in which customer demand is weak and a seemingly relentless rise in tax and regulatory burdens. This underlines the pressing need for a more coherent approach to policy making. The promised Scottish Retail Strategy provides an opportunity for firms and government to collaborate on the best way to nurture the industry and the customers it serves. This would be a step change from the somewhat ad hoc approach that the industry currently faces.”
Paul Martin, UK Head of Retail, KPMG:
“The latest figures confirm the scale of the challenges facing retailers throughout Scotland. While the industry continues to outperform the rest of the UK, there is a clear downward trend across most major categories, including static growth in typically resilient food sales, and the worst performance for non-food retailers since our records began in January 1999.
“Ongoing economic and political uncertainty, combined with shifting consumer behaviour, are creating a volatile landscape for Scotland’s retail sector, with leading brands facing a struggle for survival. Our insight suggests it could be some time before we see signs of recovery.”