Retail sales in Scotland fall 2.1%
The figures, released by the British Retail Consortium and KPMG, raise fresh concerns about the recovery north of the border as consumer confidence continues to be weaker in Scotland than in the UK as a whole.
Food sales slowed after picking up in July. Non-food sales fell further below their year-earlier level. Clothing and footwear showed larger declines, despite increased discounting. Big-ticket homewares purchases were still often deal-driven, hit by fragile consumer confidence and the weak housing market.
Richard Dodd, Scottish Retail Consortium head of media, said: "There's little to be optimistic about here. After May's -1%, this is the second worst annual drop in total sales since we began compiling these figures in 1999.
"Most parts of Scottish retailing are suffering. Sales of non-food goods were down on a year ago for the fourth month in a row. Food and drink sales were up slightly but by less than inflation, meaning that people actually bought less.
"The coldest August weather since 1993 was no help but it's the impact of job fears and falling spending power that have left customers in Scotland less confident than those in other parts of the UK. The gap is narrowing but that has yet to help sales performance which was positive for the UK as a whole but not for Scotland.
"As the Scottish Government prepares to outline its Budget plans later this month, this is clear evidence that it needs to support retail as a source of investment and growth by not imposing new burdens."
David McCorquodale, head of retail in Scotland, KPMG, said: "With retailer margins already significantly reduced through promotional activity and another rent day looming later this month, cash management is a key focus for many retailers at a time when the big decisions are also being made for Christmas."
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