Scottish retailers have reported the worst December sales figures in 20 years, highlighting continuing woes on the nation’s high streets .
Sales decreased by 1.2% on a like-for-like basis, compared to December 2017, when they were up by 0.3% year-on-year during the key festive trading period.
Without factoring in any impact from shops opening and closing during the past year, total sales were down by 1% last month.
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The Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) said it was the worst December outcome since 2014.
Adjusted for inflation measured at 0.3% by the BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index, December sales decreased by 1.3% – the biggest fall since SRC launched its Scottish Retail Sales Monitor in 1999.
SRC head of policy Ewan MacDonald-Russell said: “There was little Christmas cheer for retailers.
“Whilst the dip was less pronounced than that witnessed the previous month, it’s clear stores have suffered as consumer spending is pared back under pressure from inflation, rising household costs and against a backdrop of uncertainty.
“Christmas is the key trading period for retailers so these figures bookend an underwhelming 2018 for the industry.”
Paul Martin, UK head of retail at SRSM sponsor KPMG added: “Festive spending didn’t flourish in December as retailers hoped. Retailers were generous with discounts and other promotional offers throughout the month, but this wasn’t enough to encourage shoppers to the high street.
“Even taking into account online sales, total non-food sales declined by 1%, the lowest December on record since 2008.”
Mr Martin added: “There was some relief for retailers as food sales increased by 1.3% – one of the few categories to experience growth.
“However, the contrast in performance between the high street and online was plain to see in December, even though 2018 saw a slowdown in online retail sales.
“2018 has been an extremely tough year for retailers.
“As we enter 2019, the focus should be on remaining resilient in the face of both known and unknown factors.”