Scottish retail sector on ‘slow path to recovery’

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The trade association for retailers has said Scottish sales for June “remained in the doldrums”.

They were down by almost a fifth (19%) last month compared with the same period last year.

The figures, from the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC), suggested it was the fourth successive month of double-digit decline.

However, some areas – such as food (which was up 4%), laptops and other home electronics – fared better.

Games, toys and DIY also did well but clothing and footwear did not.

The reopening of many non-essential shops in the last week of June bolstered figures slightly.

Many shoppers did shift to online shopping which also offset some of the decline. With online sales considered, the SRC said the total decline was “much improved” from May, when it was at 33%.

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Many people moved to online shopping

Paul Martin, KPMG UK’s head of retail, said: “It’s clear the easing of lockdown has failed to kick-start a full recovery in Scotland’s retail sector.

“The overall outlook remains incredibly depressed, particularly for clothing retailers.

“The shift to online sales has helped offset some of the challenges, but the situation remains critical for many of the country’s highest profile brands as well as independent retailers.”

He added: “As we slowly enter the final phase in Scotland’s lockdown, we’re confident that conditions will continue to improve, but a concerted, collaborative effort from the industry and political leaders will be essential if we’re to reverse the long-term downward trend and return to sustainable growth in the country’s high streets.”

Scotland ‘lagging behind’ UK

David Lonsdale, of the SRC, added: “Last month’s performance lagged well behind that of the UK as a whole – unsurprising after more than three full months of lockdown.

“June did at least witness an improvement on recent lows, aided by the reopening of many ‘non-essential’ shops in the final week of the trading period.

“Going forward, the permitted reopening of shops, malls and eateries over recent weeks should help generate more shopper footfall and lift retail sales figures.

“However, more needs to be done in particular to bring the energy and footfall back into our city centres.”

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