Scottish retailers ‘need rates change’

According to the Scottish Retail Consortium, pressure relief for the retail industry would come after the government adapts Scottish business rates to a simpler and more resilient scheme.

Increasing food sales and good weather conditions helped the retail industry survive after a terrible summer season. Now the sales are up 1.1% in one month, comparing with the 0.3% of the preceding 3-months average.

According to the retail consortium, there’s a lot more to be done to make retailers invest.

The SRC-KPMG Scottish Retail Sales Monitor reported that the average sales decrease is 0.4% between this September and the same period of time of the previous year.

According to the message from Ewan MacDonald-Russell with the Scottish Retail Consortium, this September is still a good breakthrough, especially after a poor summer season. The main catalyst of the progress became the food niche, and the rise is currently about 1.9%, which is the most productive month since July 2013.

Non-food sales, he added, also improved, with the 0.5 per cent real terms growth the best since May this year. Furniture and electrical sales were both strong, as were sales of health and beauty product.

However, Mr MacDonald-Russell warned that while these figures were encouraging, retail sales were a “long way from returning to strong and consistent growth”.

“Over the last 12 months sales have been flat and certainly have not increased at the same pace as the costs resulting from public policy,” he said.

“That’s why earlier this month the SRC called for fundamental reform of Scottish business rates. Creating a simpler, more flexible and more competitive rates system would go a long way to relieving pressure on retailers, allowing them the opportunity to invest in their workers and businesses to increase productivity and economic growth.”