Retail update

End for Beales as Asda falls and bargain hunters lift Scots stores

Beales Perth

Beales’ Perth store was among the first to close

The remaining 11 Beales department stores look certain to close after failing attract offers. 

It had been hoped to find a buyer for the stores after the company plunged into administration last month.

KPMG initially shut 12 of its 23 outlets, including the store in Perth.

Discussions with “a number of interest parties” continue alongside preparations to close the remaining stores.

The company has also made a further 20 staff redundant at its head office in Bournemouth, KPMG said.

The 139-year-old business employed approximately 1,050 staff before the first closures.

Asda falls

Big four supermarket chain Asda said customers were “cautious” over the Christmas period as it revealed sales fell in the final three months of last year.

Like-for-like sales were 1.3% lower than the year before, in line with the trend at rival stores. Sales at Sainsbury’s fell by 0.7% over a similar period, while Tesco saw a 0.2% decline and Morrisons was down 1.7%.

The figures came at the end of a difficult year for Asda, which saw its planned merger with Sainsbury’s thwarted by the UK’s competition watchdog.

Scottish retail uplift

Scottish retailers continue to scrap over small gains in sales as bargain-hunting plays a part in boosting revenue.

The SRC-KPMG retail sales monitor found total sales rose year-on-year by 1.3% in January, although this was lower than the 2.2% lift in the same month last year and 0.1% lower on a like-for-like basis. Adjusted for deflation, this year’s increase was 1.7%.

Food sales were particularly strong, rising by 2.7%, although total non-food sales rose only marginally.

Paul Martin, UK Head of Retail at KPMG, said: “January is typically a challenging month for Scotland’s retail sector, so any rise – however modest – will be a small victory for the industry following an incredibly challenging 2019.

“It’s too early to say with complete certainty that we’re entering a period of renewed consumer confidence, but with total sales increasing by 1.3% compared with January 2019, it’s been a positive start to 2020. The data also compares favourably to the UK as a whole, which witnessed a fairly static sales growth of just 0.4%. 

Small electricals, DIY items, mobile phones and furniture performed well, with “a portion” of those sales being driven by discounting.

However, fashion and footwear sales continued to be sluggish, with a combination of wet weather and customers’ concerns over sustainability appearing to inhibit purchases.

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