CITY centre shops are preparing to celebrate a Festival sales boom as retailers report Scotland’s best August since 2009.
Figures from the Scottish Retail Consortium published today show total sales across Scotland last month were up four per cent on the same period last year.
In Edinburgh, the picture could be even better with some shops expected to report business up by between five and ten per cent.
Andy Neal, chief executive of Essential Edinburgh, which represents 600 city businesses, said: “We don’t have the sales figures for August yet, but the footfall figures for the city were up 20 per cent and for the central business improvement district – Princes Street, George Street and Rose Street – it was 30 per cent up.
“The bulk of people who were visiting were here for the Festival rather than shopping, so it’s unlikely retail figures will be anywhere near as strong as that, but we are hoping we will still see some good growth. Edinburgh will have had a very good month.”
He suggested between five and ten per cent could be the kind of increase seen by many shops in the city centre.
“In a totally depressed economy, growth like that is excellent, especially on a big month. Hopefully retailers are feeling very good.”
The forecast shopping boom is in line with the record ticket sales achieved for this year’s Festival, Fringe and Book Festival.
Josh Miller, chairman of the George Street Association, said cafes and restaurants in particular had done well last month, though for retail businesses the picture was more mixed, depending on how they were affected by the temporary car ban on parts of George Street.
But he said there had been a major improvement on last year’s Festival, when numbers generally were down thanks to the London Olympics.
He said: “With Fringe tickets being up and all the activities in George Street, there was a sense of the Festival being busier than last year.” But he said in addition to the Festival effect there was also the tram effect.
He said: “The tram works are nearly over and people can see it is coming to an end. There was no disruption in Princes Street or George Street this year, though there are still tram works at the West End.
“The Festival aside, there is a sense of momentum and you can feel it.”
The figures from the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) showed total food sales in Scotland were up 3.6 per cent on last August while non-food sales rose 3.4 per cent. Taking into account shop price deflation, total sales were up four per cent in real terms.
SRC director Fiona Moriarty said: “The best August since 2009 has helped to keep the positive momentum going following a record-breaking July. Combined with a recent uplift in Scottish consumer confidence, the signs are that many of us are increasingly feeling more optimistic about the economy.”