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Report: Scottish retail ‘hammered’ by November’s lockdown

The Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) has released its sales monitor for November, revealing growth was ‘hammered’ by a countrywide lockdown.

The report carried out by KPMG revealed:

  • In November, Scottish sales decreased by 9.6% on a like-for-like basis compared with November 2019, when they had decreased by 1.0%*. This is below the 3-month average decrease of 7.5% and above the 12-month average decrease of 9.9%.
  • Total sales in Scotland decreased by 10.2% compared with November 2019, when they had decreased by 0.1%*. This was below the 3m average decline of 8.1% but above the 12m average decline of 11.2%. Adjusted for deflation, the decrease was 8.4%.
  • Total Food sales increased 4.8% versus November 2019, when they had increased by 2.2%*. This was the highest growth since March, when stockpiling inflated the figures. November was above the 3-month average growth of 4.2% and the 12-month average growth of 3.7%. The 3-month average was below the UK level of 7.0%, while the 12-month average was below the UK’s levels of 4.8%.
  • Total Non-Food sales decreased by 22.8% in November compared to November 2019, when they had decreased by 2.0%*. This was below the 3-month average decline of 18.4% but above the 12-month average decline of 23.5%.

Adjusted for the estimated effect of Online sales, Total Non-Food sales decreased by 4.8% in November versus November 2019, when they had decreased by 4.0%*. This is below the three-month average decline of 4.2% but above the 12-month average decline of 12.3%. Those are lower than the UK’s 3m average growth of 1.3% and 12m Total average decline of 4.5% respectively.

Ewan MacDonald-Russell, Head of Policy & External Affairs, Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Scottish retail sales plummeted in November as retailers were hammered by the Level 4 lockdowns. Overall sales fell by 8.4 percent in real terms; but it was non-food stores which truly suffered with sales falling by more than a fifth. Clothing, footwear, and beauty all continued to struggle, which is an enormous concern during the traditional golden shopping period of the year for non-food stores.

“It wasn’t all bad news. Food sales accelerated for the third consecutive month, benefitting from the continuing lack of competition from closed hospitality businesses and the launch of festive ranges. It’s also clear shoppers have looked to start Christmas shopping early where possible. Christmas decorations saw record sales as customers look to offset bleak lockdowns with light and colour along with chocolate and cosmetic advent calendars. We also saw signs customers were buying festive gifts early, albeit where necessary from grocery and digital retailers as physical shops were closed across 11 local authorities.

“For many retailers it’s all going to come down to December trading; and in West and Central Scotland the last 14 days running up to Christmas. One in eight pounds is traditionally spent in December, so there will be opportunities for stores to attract customers. However, unless we see a big change from the last ten months of falling sales and declining footfall, it’s going to be very difficult for a lot of businesses in January. With that in mind, early clarity on business rates relief and a commitment to a high street voucher to stimulate some spending would be very welcome from Scottish Ministers in the near future.”



Additional Guidance and Resources

BRC report: Lockdown ‘put brakes on’ retail growth in November

Reopening Retail: Take Two

Bira fights for indie retailers in meeting with business minister

Bira urges shoppers to get back on to the high street

Bira’s 5-step guide to Covid-secure reopening

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