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Tuesday, December 7, 2021
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Retail spending across Scotland weakest since March

Scottish Retail

The SRC said its latest figures published this morning in conjunction with KPMG sound ‘alarm bells’ ahead of the Christmas rush

Retail spending across Scotland dropped last month to its weakest since March, dashing hopes for a sustained post-lockdown bounce across the sector.

The Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) said its latest figures published this morning in conjunction with KPMG sound “alarm bells” ahead of the Christmas rush. Shortages, rising prices and general economic uncertainty were cited for undermining consumer confidence.

Scottish sales only crept above last year’s terrible figures and were a whopping 9.1 per cent down on pre-pandemic trading, SRC head of policy Ewan MacDonald-Russell said. The alarm bells are ringing louder than the tills for Scotland’s shops as we move into the crucial Christmas trading period.

Total sales rose by 1.3% compared to September 2020, below both the three-month average of 3.8% and the 12-month average of 10%. Compared to September 2019, sales were down 9.1%.

Paul Martin, head of retail at KPMG, said September was dominated by widespread consumer concern over supply chain issues, labour shortages, rising energy prices and fuel shortages.

As we approach the crucial Christmas shopping period, retailers continue to face staffing pressures and supply chain issues, with challenges getting product into the UK and goods into customers’ hands, Mr Martin said. This may feed into limited availability of certain products and the spectre of price rises remains as retailers pull out all the stops for Christmas.

He added that consumers are expected to start shopping earlier to secure items already being reported as potentially out of stock by December. Successful retailers will have to work very hard to ensure availability of products at the right price.

Mr MacDonald-Russell added there is much to concern retailers.

With both the Chancellor and Finance Secretary set to produce Budgets in the coming months the priority must be to take steps to alleviate consumer concerns whilst recognising businesses are unlikely to be able to shoulder additional burdens in the immediate future, he said.

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