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Warning: Scottish retail recovery ‘painfully slow and protracted’

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SCOTTISH retail sales value in August was down by 7.5 per cent on the same month of last year, industry figures show, prompting a warning that the revival of the sector is “proving painfully slow and protracted”.

The latest monthly figures, published today by the Scottish Retail Consortium, show that the value of non-food sales last month was down by 15.1% on August 2019. Non-food sales tend, overall, to reflect more discretionary elements of consumer spending.

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Food sales value in Scotland last month was up 1.5% on July 2019. However, this represented a slowing of growth from the 3.5% year-on-year rise in July.

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The year-on-year rate of decline in the overall value of Scottish retail sales continued to decelerate in August. However, the 7.5% year-on-year drop last month was not much of an improvement on the corresponding 8.3% fall for July. In April, at the height of the lockdown, the value of Scottish retail sales was down by 40.3% on the same month of last year.

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Scottish Retail Consortium director David Lonsdale said: “Six months on from the start of the pandemic and the revival of retail is proving painfully slow and protracted. The recovery in stores witnessed over recent months petered out in August, with Scottish retail sales now having fallen for six months in a row compared to the same period last year.”

He added: “Any hopes of a return to growth, or even better a modest claw back of lost sales from the earlier part of the pandemic, will have been thwarted by this latest data. The past six months have been bruising for the industry, and even with the crucial Christmas trading period coming into view, the near-term outlook remains uncertain.”

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