I am catching up on some of the recently published data about retail sales. This short post has graphs from two sources (a) the Scottish Retail Sales Monitor, published by the Scottish Retail Consortium and (b) Internet sales as a proportion of retail sales published by the Office for National Statistics.
Both have featured in this blog before but I am reporting here on the recent sales figures in these series as they show the changes that have been underway during the pandemic lockdown.
In the graph above, the last 18 months or so are shown in order to emphasise the recent data. The decline in the non-food sales (and thus in total sales) in Scotland is unprecedented in the 20+ plus years of this series. The depth of the decline, due to the closure of “non-essential” stores is notable. But, what is interesting is the beginnings of an improvement in May 2020, as some stores re-opened and some confidence returned. Most shops remained shut however so the decline is over 50% on last year. In food retailing, there was some growth, with other evidence pointing to a sustained switch to local community focused convenience stores.
With Scottish retailing coming out of lockdown on the 29th June, we can expect another report of a month of weak sales overall (June), but then a sense of recovery may take over.
The second source looks at the shift to online sales and again records a record. Two graphs are shown below; a longer run and a more focused shorter term picture.
The top graph shows the long run switch to online that has been underway, with the annual Christmas peaks apparent. The figures for April and then May (almost 33% of sales online) show the dramatic boost to this channel that the pandemic sparked.
The lower graph takes a shorter run period and shows again the same effect. But interestingly it shows what looked like more of stagnation in online sales in the latter part of 2019 and the earlier part of 2020. The dual Black Friday and Christmas peak of Nov/Dec 2019 is also interesting. The pandemic though has disrupted the channels and boosted online as opposed to fixed store retailing. This is clearly to be expected with the closure of many stores, and the reduction in total sales also helps this proportion. June will be an interesting figure to watch in terms of a return to “normal” or the initial signs of the sustaining of a “new normal”.