Like-for-like (LFL) sales in Scotland last month rose for the first time since March but growth north of the border is still lower than in England.
According to the latest Sales Monitor report from the Scottish Retail Consortium, LFL sales increased 0.1 per cent and total sales were up 2.5 per cent.
August is normally a strong sales period and growth in 2010 was slower than during the same period last year when like-for-like sales increased 1.6 per cent and total sales increased 5.7 per cent.
Fiona Moriarty, Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “August’s stronger Scottish sales growth is good news for retailers but it follows several very poor months of trade and the worry is that this growth is only a temporary reprieve.
“In this hiatus between the emergency budget and the implementation of public sector cuts, concern may have eased enough to get some people spending but shoppers are chasing deals and value in a big way and retailers are discounting.
Food sales recorded the biggest growth in August with total sales rising 4.6 per cent but non-food sales continue to struggle, increasing just 0.3 per cent in total sales and falling LFL sales falling 1.4 per cent.
Clothing sales fell further below their year-earlier level and big tickets sales continued struggle as consumers restricted their spending to essentials.
David McCorquodale, Head of Retail in Scotland, KPMG, commented: “The warmer weather helped drive Scottish food and drink LFL sales to their best year-on-year growth in six months – an increase of 1.7 per cent.
“However, signs that consumers remain cautious are reflected in the reduction in spend on clothing and footwear.”
Warmer weather and the Back-to-school sales helped improve trading during the month but Scotland’s performance was still behind the rest of the UK.
Over the three month summer period UK total sales increased three per cent and LFL sales increased 0.9 per cent, whereas Scotland experienced a two per cent fall in LFL and 0.8 per cent reduction in total sales over the same period.
Moriarty added: “The longer-term concern for retailers is that consumer confidence is weaker in Scotland than other parts of the UK. Many people already feel they have less money available and that that will get worse not better.”