Lidl to boost range of Scottish produce
Supermarket chain Lidl is to increase the number of Scottish products in its Pick of Scotland range this year by a further 25%.
The news was revealed by the company’s regional buying Scotland team at a showcase of its product range at The Lighthouse in Glasgow.
The range currently represents nearly 300 Scottish products, having already been increased by 65% last year.
Lidl is working with more than 50 Scottish suppliers, with more in the pipeline.
Speaking at the event, Paul McQuade, head of the regional buying Scotland team, said: “We want to build on the success of 2016 by offering our customers more Scottish products.
“We have developed strong relationships with suppliers from every corner of the country and continue to seek out new and exciting opportunities as often as possible.”
Easter timing flatters retail sales
Scottish retail sales increased by 3% on a like-for-like basis in April compared to April 2016, when they had decreased by 3.3%. However, the figure is positively distorted by the timing of Easter. On a three-month basis, which irons out distortions, like-for-like reverted to growth, at 0.2%.
David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “The impressive spike in Scottish retail sales last month is encouraging, albeit it was flattered somewhat by the timing of Easter this year. Nonetheless retailers will look on this as something of a rainbow amongst the gathering storm clouds, given expectations of an unsettled and squally period ahead for consumer demand.
“There was a further and stark polarisation in the retail sales performance of food and non-food categories. Grocery did well, especially fayre associated with the Easter holiday period. Indeed the total value of food sales recorded their best three-month performance since autumn 2013, helped in part by the recent return of food price inflation.
“In contrast non-food items continued to drop, recording their poorest quarterly results – even adjusted for online sales – for over four years. Whilst kids’ school-wear did reasonably well, spending on items often considered less essential or which come with a larger price tag continued to wilt as shoppers took a more cautious approach.
“The overall performance last month was positive but could well prove short-lived. Retailers are grappling with several recent cost increases which are now really starting to take hold and which ultimately will affect margins and so their ability to invest. It will be a struggle to pass on these cost rises to increasingly cash-conscious shoppers, who are having to contend themselves with rises in inflation and council tax and measly real terms growth in wages.”
Craig Cavin, head of retail in Scotland at KPMG, said: “With Easter occurring in April this year, sales performance provided retailers with some respite after a difficult month.
“Providing further solace to the industry, the three-month average of retail sales – which levels out distortion – showed that like-for-like growth was up 0.2%. Warm weather at the start of the month will have helped this growth, and as we move towards summer, retailers will be hopeful of a further lift in sales.
“It seems consumers placed festive feasts with friends and family at the heart of their Easter holidays, with grocers benefitting from a surge in food sales. However, this growth is likely to be heavily distorted by both the relatively late Easter and price inflation creeping into the mix. This jump may also be the reason that the three-month growth for food sales was at its highest since September 2013.
“Elsewhere, non-food retail sales were disappointing. Despite Easter, sales fell by 0.8% year-on-year. Clearly bargain hunters seeking big-ticket items like furniture and white goods were not out in force, leaving retailers without the boost they may have expected.”