Customers 'need a bargain before they spend'

Black Friday behind slump in sales in Scottish high streets

Black FridayShop sales in Scotland fell over the Christmas period with figures confirming the damaging effect of Black Friday on the big stores.

Bargain hunters flocked to the shops on 28 November to snap up big ticket items such as televisions, computers and mobile phones being offered in a US-style discount selling day.

But the surge of shoppers on that day meant there were fewer on the high street in the traditional two weeks before Christmas when retailers were unable to sell the same products at full price.

Scottish sales for December were down 1.8% on the same month in 2013 when they also fell 1.1%.

Unveiling a 7% rise in festive trading figures today Sebastian James, chief executive of Dixons Carphone, agreed that the Black Friday phenomenon had played a part. He said: “There is no doubt that the huge scale and success of our Black Friday promotion impacted the three weeks that followed.”

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Even adjusted for shop prices which are falling at the moment, the small decrease in sales in December is unfortunate and rounds off what was a testing 2014 for many in the industry.

“Consumers remain cautious and the surge in online sales at the time of Black Friday in late November clearly had the impact of pulling sales forward particularly from the early part of last month.”

He said the figures pointed to “continuing fragility in the recovery” He appealed to Holyrood to do something about take-home pay and disposable incomes when it begins setting income tax rates and when the First Minister’s alternative to council tax is unveiled.

“It is absolutely imperative that these decisions on personal levels of taxation, and therefore the amount of money in people’s pockets, are ones which support consumer spending and economic recovery,” he said.

David McCorquodale, Head of Retail at KPMG, agreed that the ‘sale windows’ of Black Friday and post-Christmas saw consumers flock for a discount.

“Coupled with retail performance throughout the traditional Boxing Day sales, the statistics reflect how consumers today need a bargain before committing to spend. The true cost at margin level to the retailer will only surface as the campaigns wind down.”

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