By Ian McConnell

THE value of Scottish retail sales in June was down by 18.6 per cent on the same month of 2019 amid the coronavirus crisis, the latest industry figures reveal.

This marked a further sharp deceleration in the year-on-year pace of decline, but was a very weak showing relative to the UK as a whole.

Unveiling the Scottish Retail Consortium's latest figures, SRC director David Lonsdale noted that the June figures showed the fourth consecutive month of double-digit-percentage, year-on-year decline in the value of sales.

Retail sales value in May had been down 27.6 per cent on the same month of last year. In April, the year-on-year decline had been 40.3%. March had shown a 13% year-on-year drop. The UK Government moved to full lockdown on March 23.

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The value of non-food sales in Scotland in June was down by 37.3% on the same month of last year, an improvement on respective corresponding drops of 71.4% and 53.2% in April and May. Scottish food sales in June were up 4% year-on-year by value.

Figures published last week by the British Retail Consortium showed a 3.4% year-on-year rise in UK retail sales value in June. Non-essential retailers were permitted to reopen from June 15 in England. In Scotland, the reopening of non-essential retail got under way on June 29.

Mr Lonsdale said: “Scottish retail sales remained in a funk last month, down by almost a fifth on the same period last year. This was the fourth successive month of double-digit [percentage] decline. Last month’s performance lagged well behind that of the UK as a whole, unsurprising after more than three full months of lockdown. June did at least witness an improvement on recent lows, aided by the reopening of many ‘non-essential’ shops in the final week of the trading period.”

The June trading period ran from May 31 to July 4.

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Mr Lonsdale said: “Items which allowed people to carry on working or schooling from home continued to do well, such as laptops and accessories and home electricals. Whilst positive for some retailers, at least in the short term, any prolonged absence of office workers from our city and town centres has portents for stores in those areas who rely on such custom, and who may also have suffered from a loss of tourist traffic and students recently.“

He noted that home-entertainment categories such as gaming and toys had also performed well, as had do-it-yourself and grocery.

Mr Lonsdale added that clothing and footwear had, on the other hand, continued to fare poorly, particularly more formal attire and holiday-related items.

Weighing the outlook, he said: “Going forward, the permitted reopening of shops, malls and eateries over recent weeks should help generate more shopper footfall and lift retail sales figures. However, more needs to be done in particular to bring the energy and footfall back into our city centres.”