Volume of Scottish retail sales drops but value rises in Q1
Scottish shoppers consumed fewer goods in the first three months of the year compared with the previous quarter but spent more on them, according to the latest Retail Sales Index for Scotland.
While the volume of retail sales in Scotland fell by 0.4% in the first quarter of 2017, the value of retail sales increased by 0.5%. On an annual basis, the volume grew by 0.2% and the value rose by 1.8%.
Scottish retailers might feel tempted to celebrate the rising retail values, but it’s not all good news for them as the index also found that Scotland is lagging behind Britain in terms of retail sales growth.
On an annual basis, the volume of Scottish retail sales grew by 0.2%, while Great Britain as a whole experienced a 2.1% increase over the same period. As for the value of retail sales, the 1.8% Scottish figure was also behind Britain’s 4.8%.
“The improvement in the headline figure for the total value of retail sales in the first quarter of this year is encouraging at first glance, but it looks less rosy once falling shop prices are taken into account,” said David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium.
"Indeed shop prices have fallen each month for the past four years which demonstrates that retailers are having to work ever harder to maintain, let alone grow, sales values.
"Scottish retailers face a challenging trading period ahead. Rising commodity prices and changes in the exchange rate are pushing up import prices, the cumulative burden of government policies is mushrooming, whilst shoppers themselves are expected to keep a tighter rein on spending,” he continued.
The head of the Scottish Retail Consortium warned that consumer spending will also face headwinds in the coming months, due to rising inflation and increases in council taxes.
“Higher statutory employee pension contributions are also set to take their toll on discretionary spending in each of the next two years,” he added.
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