April sales rise in Scotland but fashion demand weak as food sales dominate
April’s Easter holiday uplift in England was also seen north of the border last month as Scottish sales for the 2-29 April period rose 9%.
But the news wasn’t quite a good as it looked. The figure failed to match the 15.3% uplift delivered 12 months ago compared to the 2021 period although it has to be said that the comparisons last year were much easier, given the pandemic after-effects.
However, adjusted for inflation, April 2023’s year-on-year retail growth in Scotland was just 0.3%.
Easter “provided a slender but nonetheless welcome uplift to retail sales in Scotland last month”, the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) said in releasing its latest figures compiled by KPMG.
And it appears discretionary spending, particularly in clothing and footwear, lost out to food shopping last month, with a “continued and more pronounced polarisation of performance between food and non-food categories”, said SRC director David Lonsdale.
But Lonsdale also said the real-term value of retail sales did edge back into positive territory during the period, after the decline witnessed in March, “driven by health and beauty categories and as people spruced up their homes and gardens”.
On a like-for-like basis, Scottish sales last month increased 6.2% compared with April 2022, when they had increased by 12.7%.
Total Non-Food sales increased just 3.9% in April compared with April 2022, when they’d leapt 25.7%. Adjusted for the estimated effect of online sales, total non-food sales increased 2.5% versus April 2022, when they’d increased 18.8%.
Paul Martin, UK Head of Retail at KPMG, added: “It was a mixed bag for retailers. Noticeably, clothing and footwear sales didn’t perform as strongly as may have been expected at this time of year, which is likely down to a lack of sunny days across the country last month.
“Consumer demand has so far been fairly resilient to the twin drags of high inflation and high interest rates, but as government energy support comes to an end for many, savings start to dwindle and other household bills rise, it is likely that the next few months will continue to be challenging as the consumer tank empties. Much hinges on whether soaring food inflation can be brought under control enough to allow consumers to comfortably start spending again on non-essential items.”
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