Apr 21, 2021
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‘Make-or-break’ time for many as Scottish retail prepares to reopen says SRC

Apr 21, 2021

There’s a "long and challenging road ahead” for non-essential Scottish retail. That’s according to the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) whose latest sales figures show there’s much catch-up work to be done when retail fully reopens there on 26 April.

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Its projections are based on some tough numbers that showed comparative sales of non-food items in the five-week period (28 February-3 April) are almost half of 2019's levels.

The SRC-KPMG Scottish Retail Sales Monitor also showed total sales in March fell 13.8% compared with March 2019, when they rose by 0.3% year-on-year. This was below the three-month average decline of 20.9% but was an improvement on a decline of 23.7% recorded this February.

Scottish sales also fell 11.5% on a two-year like-for-like basis, compared with March 2019 when they slipped 0.2%.

Total non-food sales decreased by 49.2% in March compared with March 2019, when they rose 0.7% year-on-year. Adjusted for the estimated effect of online sales, total non-food sales dipped 10.5% in March versus March 2019, when they had increased 1.3%. This is above the three-month average decline of 20% and below the 2019 average decline of 1.4%. 

KPMG UK head of retail Paul Martin said: “The next few months will be make or break for many retailers as restrictions ease and consumer confidence hopefully returns”.

"With total sales down almost 14%, it’s clear that there is a long and potentially very challenging road ahead. However, it’s reassuring to note that this is a significant improvement from the 23.7% decline in February”. 

He added: "March 2020 was a month that we’re unlikely to ever experience again, with panic-buying followed by store closures and a collapse in sales. With that in mind, our comparison on a two-yearly basis provides us with more of an accurate idea of how well Scotland’s high street is performing.

"Non-food sales have really struggled throughout the pandemic, with UK retailers in that space taking a staggering £27 billion hit. There may be light at the end of the tunnel, but any recovery and potential post-pandemic boom could be too little too late for some”.

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