Scottish retail sales reported growth for the third consecutive month in February, up 0.7 per cent compared with a year earlier when they fell 0.6 per cent, according to data released today.
Like-for-like sales declined by 0.1 per cent however and, taking into account the 1.1 per cent shop price inflation, total sales in February decreased 0.3 per cent in real terms, the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC)/KPMG Retail Sales Monitor found.
Non-food sales dipped 0.5 per cent on a total basis compared with February 2012 thanks to strong sales across electricals and furniture & flooring though this was the strongest performance in nearly a year excluding Christmas.
Conversely, total food sales climbed two per cent over the month, reporting the weakest growth since July excluding Christmas though David Martin, Head of Policy at the SRC, said that such figures are to be applauded.
“This is an encouraging result with February being the third consecutive month of Scottish sales growth and the best three-month average in nearly two years.
“However, total sales didn‘t measure up well against those in January and in real terms were down 0.3 per cent.
“This reminds us that the economy and trading environment remains fragile.
“Non-food sales continued to rebound in February, showing the strongest performance since March 2012 if pre-Christmas trading is excluded.
“The gap between Scottish sales growth and that for the UK as a whole widened again in February returning to what has been the norm for around two years.
“All in all, however, this is a satisfactory showing and should be welcomed with cautious optimism.”
Although the clothing category saw poor growth due to cold weather deterring shoppers from Spring ranges, all other categories reported a boost and KPMG‘s Head of Retail David McCorquodale expects this trend to continue.
“February‘s performance delivered a third consecutive month of growth for the Scottish retail sector, which will give retailers reasons to feel fairly upbeat as we head into Spring,” he commented.
“The tendency for Scottish schools to take shorter half term breaks than their English and Welsh cousins meant that non-food sales didn‘t quite feel the uplift seen in the South, despite being against soft comparables last year.
“However, the decline was not as steep as it‘s been for some time and will thus be viewed with some relief.
“Retailers will now be hoping for an even stronger March, buoyed by Mother‘s Day and Easter falling in the same month.
“The hope is that next week‘s budget will deliver a fillip to stimulate consumer spending in the long term, and provide a much needed boost to the sector.”