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Home Hardware Scotland reports best year since 1983

Published: 20 January 2011
Wholesaler sees turnover jump 20.94% in 2010, despite struggle by non-food sectors in Scotland in December.
Home Hardware Scotland reports best year since 1983
The dealer-owned buying group also recorded a massive 38.68% increase in turnover in December. General manager Chris McEwan attributes the increase to Home Hardware being well prepared for the bad weather. "Our winter essentials products sold particularly well, specially salt, snow shovels, de-icer and all heating-related products. The Home Hardware buyers worked hard to ensure these products were available to meet the demands of our members."

Unfortunately, not all Scottish firms saw such huge increases in December, with the high street badly affected by the snow in the run up to Christmas. The latest figures from the Scottish Retail Consortium revealed that over all sales were up 0.7% on a like-for-like basis compared with December 2009, while non-food sectors saw a 1.8% decline.

Despite a seasonal surge in food sales, boosted by shoppers stocking up in freezing conditions, homewares and furniture sales were down on a year ago - impacted by continued consumer caution and the adverse weather.

In the furniture and floorcoverings sector sales worsened further, especially for larger purchases, as consumers remained concerned about job cuts, incomes and the housing market. Snow disrupted customers getting out to the shops, as well as deliveries. According to the SRC-KPMG sales monitor, fitted kitchens and bathrooms were mixed and often discount-driven, while some retailers saw an improvement in sales of beds and bedroom furniture.

Homewares sales fell back and remained down on a year ago. Travel difficulties due to the snowy conditions, combined with consumer caution meant that essentials often sold better than decorative and discretionary items, said the SRC. Kitchenware and floorcare ranges benefited, while the freezing temperatures boosted sales of duvets and bedding.

Sales of electricals were mixed and often discount-driven, though white goods held up. DIY categories were quiet, disrupted by snow and ice, leading to a surge in sales of grit, salt, heating and plumbing.

SRC director Fiona Moriarty said of the figures: "Overall it was a steady Christmas of unspectacular growth but there was a stark division between retail sectors. All December's sales growth came from food, while extreme weather and economic uncertainties dealt a major blow to sales of non-food goods. But a seasonal surge in food sales cannot quite disguise customers' cautious mood.

"The heavy snow hampered people's ability to get out and shop in the first half of the month... The struggle to get around helped one-stop shopping destinations and neighbourhood stores. There was a big rush in the last week before Christmas and lots of bargain hunting once the clearance sales started. But it wasn't enough to outweigh the damage to non-food sales from the combination of bad weather and fears about job cuts and falling incomes."

However, KPMG head of retail in Scotland David McCorquodale explained that retailers should not feel too disheartened and that the picture is showing some signs of improvement: "2011 is set to be a challenging year but Christmas updates from retailers do not reflect the dire picture of two years ago."

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