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Sales growth slows in Scotland

Published: 17 November 2010
Non-food sales drop 1.1% in October, with homewares and DIY down on a year ago, as consumers remain cautious about discretionary sending.
Sales growth slows in Scotland
Like-for-like (lfl) sales in October were 1.8% lower than the same month last year, when they had risen 1.5%. Sales in Scotland have now shown a decline in all but two months of 2010, according to the SRC-KPMG Scottish Retail Sales Monitor.

Non-food dropped 1.1%, down 3.8% on a lfl basis, with clothing, footwear, furniture and homewares all showing declines on a year ago. Big-ticket and discretionary items were hardest hit by the weakness of consumer confidence.

Sales in furniture and floorcoverings remained very difficult for most retailers, said the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC), with big-ticket purchases hit the hardest. Fitted kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms struggled, as people became more concerned about job prospects and the future of the housing market. Retailers were unable to tempt cautious consumers with further discounts and promotions, although new ranges and contemporary styles were brighter spots for some shops.

Homewares sales slowed further in October and remained down on a year ago. With consumers still cautious, essential purchases continued to take priority over discretionary items and sales were often driven by promotions and discounts. According to the SRC, people were unwilling to buy unless they perceived value or felt a real need. As a result kitchenware and floorcare held up better than some decorative products.

Some retailers noted an uplift in duvets, linens and soft furnishings on colder days in the month, while indoor DIY benefited from the trend to improve rather than move home. White goods showed little change, with sales driven by deals, especially for larger purchases.

SRC director Fiona Moriarty said: "Scottish shoppers are more cautious than their counterparts south of the border, with sales growth slower and footfall weaker than elsewhere in the UK. Fears about job cuts and income prospects mean customers are searching for value and deals and thinking twice before making bigger spending commitments. What sales growth there is, is being driven by promotions. Halloween and half-term helped some retailers but failed to make much difference overall."

She concluded; "With just over five weeks to go, retailers will be hoping the pre-Christmas sales surge is still to come."

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