Christmas ‘flourish’ for shops, but pressure remains
Scottish retailers are toasting what they describe as a “sparkling” Christmas sales, although the 11.3% rise last month compared with December 2021 was helped by record high inflation.
There is also some evidence that shoppers took advantage of the first Christmas in three years without lockdown restrictions to splash out and spoil themselves, family and friends.
While the year “finished with a flourish”, the Scottish Retail Consortium admitted that once adjusted for inflation, the year-on-year rise in sales was a more modest 3.9%, though this was the highest since before the pandemic measures were put in place.
Even so, a number of retail chains including Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, Hugh Boss and Lush have reported strong sales over the Christmas period, suggesting the gloom has been overdone.
SRC director David Lonsdale said: “Sales were bolstered by retailers’ promotional activity, purchases of energy saving goods, and celebrations with friends and family at home over a festive period unencumbered by Covid restrictions.
“Retail is far from being out of the woods yet. It’s an industry in transition with retailers navigating their own costs crunch, cash-conscious consumers, and the twin challenges of the economic legacy of Covid and inflationary pressures.
“With the spotlight turning to the year ahead the fact is many of these headwinds remain, requiring policymakers to show dexterity towards keeping a tight lid on the regulatory costs under their control.”