Ian McConnell

Scottish retail sales value in the November trading period was down sharply on a year earlier but this reflected the timing of Black Friday and there was actually an underlying increase, according to the latest industry figures.

The Scottish Retail Consortium said the total value of sales north of the Border in the October 27 to November 23 period was down by 2.5 per cent on a year earlier. However, it emphasised that Black Friday, which generates a surge in sales fuelled by heavy discounting, fell outwith the period covered by its latest monitor. Black Friday trading was included in the November 2018 figures.

The SRC estimated that, adjusting for Black Friday, there was underlying year-on-year growth in total sales value of 0.8% in the November trading period. It observed this was ahead of respective adjusted average year-on-year declines of 0.2% and 0.1% for the last three and 12 months.

Ewan MacDonald-Russell, head of policy and external affairs at the SRC, said: “Once adjustments for Black Friday are considered, retailers will be cautiously optimistic after a November which looks like it matched 2018. After a difficult autumn, this provides a little hope for hard-pressed retailers as we head into the most important trading month of the year.”

The overall year-on-year decline in Scottish retail sales value in the November trading period represented a significantly better outturn than a 4.4% year-on-year drop in the UK as a whole reported last week by the British Retail Consortium. The latest UK figures, as with those for Scotland, did not include Black Friday this year.

Mr MacDonald-Russell highlighted demand for smaller electrical goods but flagged a “concern” that cautious consumers were holding back from more expensive purchases, at least in part because of the “volatile political climate”.

Paul Martin, UK head of retail at survey sponsor KPMG, said: “There’s no escaping the challenges facing Scottish retailers as uncertainty hangs over the economy.”