Retail monitor records best growth since April 2011
SCOTS hit the shops in January: the country’s total retail sales were up 2% on 2012. According to the latest SRC-KPMG Scottish Retail Monitor, food showed the strongest performance with a rise of 5.2%. The figures were in line with a UK-wide rise in sales, and the best monthly increase for nearly two years.
Fiona Moriarty, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “After battling consistently tough conditions through most of 2012, this is good news for Scottish retailers. The healthier pace of sales that finally developed in December, gathered momentum in January to produce the strongest year-on-year growth since April 2011.”
There are some quirks in the statistics: New Year’s Eve was included in the survey period this year but not last year, which had an impact on food and drink results. Clothing and footwear, the strongest non-food category, had a boost from the terrible weather. The comparison with January 2012, when sales growth was negative, also helped the figures.
“Even so,” Moriarty continued, “this is an encouraging start to what’s still likely to be a challenging year. The key question now is: is this just a blip or dare we hope it signals the start of a lasting revival for customers and retailers?”
David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, commented: “January’s sales figures were the best we have seen in close to two years. With like-for-like sales up 1.2% last month, they built encouragingly on the modest progress made in December.
“Comfort food sold strongly around the New Year, while detox diets provided a boost for fruit and vegetable sales after the New Year.
“Meanwhile Scotch whisky experienced strong demand around Burns night, and homewares, which was the worst affected area last year, also saw increased levels of demand.
Sluggish non-food sales were, he added, to be expected as consumers cut back in January to pay off Christmas credit card bills. “However, retailers generally will look back on successful seasonal campaigns, be relieved that consumers responded well to promotional activity and be glad that they went into the winter with lower stocks,” he said.
“It is still far too early to read too much into these figures, but this is a welcome and positive start to 2013.”