Butchers remain one of the strongest red meat retailers in Scotland, even as consumers return to pre-lockdown shopping habits according to new statistics from Quality Meat Scotland (QMS). Across Scotland, butchers have seen more than 20% increase in value in year-on-year sales, and reports from the last few weeks suggest that this continues to strengthen. Large retailer figures also show steady growth in red meat sales.
The latest figures analysed by QMS show that of overall unprocessed red meat sales, butchers are still seeing a 21.7% increase in value in sales and are up 13.2% volume over last year, compared to the rest of the market which is averaging +12.8% in value and 9.3% in volume*.
Gordon Newlands, Quality Meat Scotland Brands Development Manager, said:
“Butcher trade peaked during the first lockdown in April and May and became the second highest retailer of red meat. This corresponded with more consumers choosing to buy local, whether to avoid the supermarket, for convenience or having more time or inclination to go to the butcher. The trend has continued, even as shopping habits have seen more consumers returning to the larger retailers, and we anticipate it will carry on through Christmas. Although reports show that customer numbers have remained similar since June, spend seems to be higher per transaction especially since the tiered lockdown was announced.”
QMS figures show that there was an upward trend for buying red meat from a butcher this time last year but this was rapidly accelerated by the impact of the pandemic, reaching a high of 48.3% increase in value on year-on-year trade in the spring and promoting butchers to the second strongest retailer of red meat (in the 12 weeks to 17th May 2020). IGD Research also reported a noticeable increase in younger shoppers, aged 18-24 and 35-44 years, in butcher shops.
Mr Newlands praised the butcher trade for working extremely hard to adapt and to keep customers in challenging times and for “not taking the foot off the gas” despite several months of extended hours.
“The butchery trade has shown its true craft, ensuring constant supply and very little carcase imbalance through being creative with cuts and upselling. This comes with knowing the craft skills and the customer.”
Mr Newlands who trained as a butcher at 15, and has been in his career an assessor for Scottish Meat Training, highlighted the superb opportunities for young people in the trade.
“The trade is thriving and there are not enough butchers to offer relief to those working long hours. Some businesses are opening new shops. I always say that if you are a fully trained butcher, you can travel the world with that skill and be guaranteed to find a job. Not every trade can say that.”
This month the Scotch Butchers Club, which supports butchery businesses to promote Scotch Lamb PGI, Scotch Beef PGI and Specially Selected Pork, has relaunched with a new look and new website; dedicated trade portal with promotional material that can be adapted to each business; new social channels and e-newsletter; apprenticeship support; and a series of webinars focused on knowledge exchange.