Retail shock

Swifties fail to splash the cash in Scotland’s shops

Taylor Swift fans swarmed on Murrayfield, but the shops didn’t benefit (pic: Terry Murden)

Expectations that Scotland’s retailers would benefit from Taylor Swift’s three Edinburgh concerts last month have proved wide of the mark.

While figures last week revealed a rise in footfall in June, new data shows that concert goers resisted a trip to the shops.

It’s thought by some observers that the high price of tickets and accommodation left little spare cash to spend on items other than food and drink at hospitality outlets.

Even those selling Taylor Swift merchandise outside Murrayfield stadium reported slow sales as most fans arrived already dressed up for the occasion.

Total retail sales in Scotland plunged by 3.4% compared with June 2023, when they grew 11.3%. The fall was also blamed on the unseasonably wet weather. Adjusted for inflation, the year-on-year decline was 3.6%.

Across the UK, total sales fell 0.2% year on year in June, against a growth of 4.9% in June 2023. 

Ewan MacDonald Russell, deputy head of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said consumers “appeared to focus on experiences ahead of shopping.”

He added: “Retailers will be hoping this is a blip, caused by unseasonably cold weather and Scots travelling to concerts, events, or the Euros.

“However, after a tepid second quarter of trading, shop owners will hope for brighter days ahead. With the General Election now behind us it is essential politicians start to take action to boost economic growth to help consumers whilst keeping the cost of business down for hard pressed retailers.”

Private sector growth slows

The Royal Bank of Scotland Growth Tracker signalled a slowing of growth in private sector output across Scotland in June.

The headline Business Activity Index, posted above the neutral 50.0 mark, but ticked down to a five-month low of 51.9, from 55.2 in May, reflecting the recent cooldown in service sector activity.

The rate at which output expanded across Scotland was also weaker than that observed at the UK level.

The slowdown in private sector output was accompanied by a fresh fall in new business, which was the first recorded in five months.

Employment rose in the latest survey period, but at the second-weakest rate since the current run of expansion began in February 2023. However, inflationary pressures continued to subside as cost burdens rose at the weakest rate in 40 months. 

Despite easing slightly on the month, projections for the year ahead outlook across Scotland remained optimistic and broadly in line with the long-run average trend in June. Businesses were hopeful that demand conditions would improve in the coming months and planned to raise their advertising and investment.

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