The news earlier last week that Scottish retail sales had suffered their worst ever monthly performance in over ten years was put into sharp perspective on Friday with the news that UK sales had risen.
The figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that across the UK, retail sales rose by 0.9% in the last month. However, the same figures for Scotland alone in January showed that total sales were down by 1.5%, according to the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC).
There was growth in food sales, with the fall in inflation likely to have had an affect here. However, this gain was far outweighed by most other sectors.
According to Ian Shearer, a director at the SRC, this decline will get the “alarm bells ringing” across the retail sector. As the largest private sector employer in the country, it is essential retail does well, but with commercial finance in Scotland increasingly hard to come by, and other external pressures, the implications could be grim for many.
The problem extends far beyond retail alone however, with business confidence at extremely low levels, something being replicated by consumers fearing job losses. Here again, problems with securing lending is restricting growth and threatening present work volumes.
Many companies are looking at different way to raise money, through invoice factoring and asset based lending, but more is needed.
The Scottish Government insist they are taking steps to increase “economic and consumer confidence”, but other MPs suggest it is still not enough.