By Ian McConnell

SCOTTISH retail sales were down three per cent on the same month of 2019 in value terms, the latest industry figures show, edging closer to their pre-pandemic levels.

The Scottish Retail Consortium, which published the figures, is making the comparison with 2019 rather than last year to enable a more meaningful analysis.

Non-food sales value in Scotland in June was down by 10.1% on the same month of 2019, in spite of a boost to sales of televisions from Euro 2020 and an improvement in demand for fashion. The non-food category tends to reflect the more discretionary elements of retail spending.

The value of food sales last month was up by 5.5% on June 2019.

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SRC director David Lonsdale said: “Scottish retail sales eked out a further modest improvement in June, the second full month since all shops were permitted to re-open, recording the best monthly performance since the onset of Covid. That said, retail sales remained a touch below pre-pandemic levels with the shallowest monthly decline in sixteen months, which serves to underline the protracted nature of the industry’s climb back to recovery.”

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He added: “The European football championships gave a fillip to sales of televisions as well as food and drink, and fashion categories did slightly better than of late, driven by the return of some aspects of socialising. That said, Covid continues to cast a shadow.

“Weak footfall, [and] a lack of foreign holidays and larger gatherings and occasions such as weddings, and the absence of a return to offices, continues to put a dampener on and hold back categories such as formal wear, holiday-related purchase of beachwear and sunscreen, as well as beauty products which often benefit from impulse buying.”

However, he added that, looking forward, “retailers will be buoyed by the continued success with the vaccination roll-out and the greater reopening of the economy and easing of restrictions, especially on events and return to offices”.