Retail sales in Scotland return to growth
Like-for-like sales in July were 0.2% higher than a year ago and total sales were up 1.7%.
Food sales picked up after a difficult June as did sales of clothing and footwear. However, homeware sales were mostly down on a year ago as consumer caution continued to hit big-ticket housing-related purchases.
As in the UK, both like-for-like and total sales were less bad in July but consumer confidence was still much weaker in Scotland than in the UK as a whole, and had fallen further in both.
Richard Dodd, Scottish Retail Consortium's head of media, welcomed the sales growth but said it should not detract from the continuing weakness in levels of consumer spending.
He commented: "This general return to sales growth is positive news for Scottish retailers but it shouldn't detract from the underlying weakness in consumer spending. Shoppers continue to feel the impact of high levels of inflation and low wage growth as households' real incomes shrink. The VAT increase and the effects of cuts have also dented consumer confidence.
"What growth there was in July came from food and drink, partly due to better weather later in the month but also to the effect of inflation on top-line growth. Sales of non-food goods fell for the third consecutive month as consumers shunned non-essential buying. Scottish customers are more likely to be worried about their prospects than those in other parts of the UK and more reluctant to spend where they don't have to.
"With public sector job cuts likely to hit hard and unemployment forecast to rise this year and next, conditions on the high street are likely to remain tough in the run-up to Christmas."
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