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'Significant drop' in sales and footfall for Scottish indies

Scottish independents have told Drapers they witnessed a “significant drop” in both sales and footfall in the first four months of 2019, as a result of unseasonably warm weather and low consumer confidence surrounding Brexit.

The overall trend in retail sales and footfall has been negative this year, the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) has reported.

The latest figures by the SRC-KPMG Scottish retail sales monitor show that like-for-like sales in March decreased by 0.6%. Meanwhile, footfall across Scotland fell by 1.4% in the same period.

“Sales up to the end of April are down on last year, with a significant drop through April specifically,” Sarah Connelly, owner of Odyssey Boutique in Edinburgh said. “Any school holiday period typically affects sales negatively. The Easter holidays, which lasted almost the full month; coupled with low consumer confidence around Brexit, could be an explanation for this decline.

“Footfall is down too, though there’s been a significant drop in footfall in the geographical area as a whole.”

Karen Hume, director of A Hume Country Clothing in Kelso, Roxburghshire, also reported a drop in sales and “flat footfall” across the same period: “Sales were down in March and April both in store and online. We have had unseasonably warm weather and I think this has kept consumers away.

“Brexit has also created a ’feel bad factor’ – people are just sitting on their hands waiting to see what happens. The uncertainty is definitely affecting us in a negative way.”

Tracy Kinnaird, company director of womenswear independent Pink Poodle in Glasgow, said: “Easter holidays fell late this year, so April trading has been a bit unpredictable. The weather has also had a significant impact as it’s mostly been cold, but there’s also been a couple of unseasonably hot spells, especially over Easter weekend, that took people out of the shops and into gardens and parks.”

Kinnaird added: “Brexit has adversely affected consumer confidence and forced people to tighten their belts.”

Susan Stewart, owner of Maggie & Suzi Boutique, which specialises in pre-owned designer clothing and accessories in Inverness, told Drapers: “There is no logic to buying any more. The run up to Christmas was quiet and sales were down significantly and then we then had a very busy January and February, but March and April has been quiet.

“Footfall is flat. Tourists aren’t coming in and the cost of accommodation and food is probably affecting this too.”

She added: “The uncertainty surrounding Brexit is also making people look at their finances. Women who would spend £300 to £400 without thinking about it are now often not spending anything.”

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