GHOULS, ghosts and cold weather gave Scotland’s food sales an 11th hour bump in the night in October, returning results that led retail industry leaders to say they were cautiously optimistic about the market.
But although total food sales were up, the best of the performance came late in the month, close to Halloween.
According to the latest Scottish Retail Consortium/KPMG Scottish Retail Sales Monitor, total Scottish retail sales this October increased by 2.1% compared to the previous year. In October last year sales had actually dropped by 1.3%, so the 2013 performance was a marked improvement.
Food was again the star performer, total sales rose 3% compared to the previous year. However, it looks as if much of that was down to stores that had opened in recent months. Because like-for-like food sales, which measures only stores which were open throughout the two years surveyed, showed food down 1%.
Anne Alexandre, senior analyst at the British Retail Consortium said: “Total food growth was relatively good in October at 3.0%, 0.3% higher than food inflation. “However there was a general sense of caution, with shoppers careful not to overspend in order to treat themselves on events. There was indeed a good end to the month in the run-up to Halloween. Change finally arrived on the menu, with a marked shift towards soups and stews.”
Fiona Moriarty, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “These figures show that there’s all to play for as Christmas approaches.
“It’s reassuring to see a partial pick-up in growth after a disappointing slowdown in the previous month, but it’s clear that many households are still feeling the squeeze and keen to keep some money aside for seasonal spending closer to December.
“Food put in a decent performance in October, with indications that customers responded well to more wintry fare as the nights started to draw in.
“Overall this is an acceptable result which tallies with the relatively stable consumer confidence levels of the last few months.
“Retailers will be hoping that this very tentative boost gains some momentum as many of us start thinking about making some headway on our Christmas lists.”