The latest figures from the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) -KPMG Scottish Retail Sales Monitor revealed that total sales plunged 13% in March from a year ago, when they fell 3.7%. This is the largest drop recorded by the monitor since its inception in January 1999 – and even after deflation has been corrected, the drop remains high at 12.2%. Before the coronavirus lockout took effect in Scotland, the monitor had grown nine percent in the first three weeks of last month, but that was completely wiped out with a drop of 44 percent in the last two weeks of this period.
Food sales jumped 12.1% from March 2019 – presumably due to panic purchases in supermarkets – but total sales of non-food items slumped by more than a third from it a year ago, when they were down 5.6%.
The shocking new figures come after warnings that the Scottish economy could shrink by a third as the impact of coronaviruses kicks in.
Ewan MacDonald Russell, CBC chief of policy and external affairs, warned after the forced lockdown that “March was nothing less than a shock on the main streets of Scotland.”
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These are really dismal figures, which show how much the retail trade has been hammered by the coronavirus. The worst overall retail sales performance of all time. The worst non-food sales of all time. Worst fashion and shoe sales ever
He added: “These are really dismal figures, which show how much the retail trade has been hammered by the coronavirus.
“The worst overall retail sales performance of all time. The worst non-food sales of all time. The worst fashion and shoe sales of all time. “
MacDonald Russell added: “Beneath the title numbers is a story of extreme polarization.
“The first three weeks of the trading period saw unprecedented levels of grocery shopping, with the staples being stockpiled before sales slipped back into negative territory in the past two weeks.
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“During the month, office supplies, toys and games, health and hygiene products, refrigerators and freezers all saw remarkable growth as customers adapted homes for lockout.
“Conversely, the bad news was really rotten. Fashion and footwear sales collapsed. Sales of large items plummeted as consumer confidence plummeted.
“Overall, consumers appear to be cutting back on spending as they adapt to these new economic circumstances and concerns. “
Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her government have ordered people to stay at home and only leave to buy essentials and exercise.
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Scotland’s shopping streets remained deserted during the lockout
Retail activity on the streets of the country is almost at a standstill
Billions of pounds are spent in a desperate attempt to help Scottish businesses as they threaten to collapse under pressure to close during the foreclosure.
MacDonald Russell said, “Retail has gone through the most difficult month of a generation.
“Many businesses are closed, while those that remain active do so under extremely difficult circumstances.
“Huge investments have been made at a sustained pace to protect colleagues and customers, maintain supply chains and expand online capacity to help those who need it.” “
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He added: “During this period, retail workers have worked extremely hard to continue providing the vital products that families need.
“Throughout the past month, the Scottish and British governments have made unprecedented fiscal interventions to support the economy.
“These vital and welcome programs, including rate cuts, worker support and subsidies, keep many retailers afloat.
“I hope this will allow our industry to play its part in getting the economy back on its feet when the time is right. “