RETAIL sales growth in Scotland lagged behind the rate for Britain as a whole in the opening three months of the year and failed to keep up with inflation.
Figures released yesterday by the Scottish Government showed the value of retail sales grew by 0.6 per cent in the three months to 31 March, with volumes rising just 0.3 per cent.
These compared with a 0.7 per cent rise in sales value for Britain and a 0.5 per cent increase in volumes.
Yet, over the past 12 months, the value of Scottish sales has grown by 2.5 per cent, outstripping the 2 per cent posted by Britain as a whole, with 2 per cent volume growth north of the Border exceeding the wider rise of 1.3 per cent.
Finance secretary John Swinney said: “The 0.3 per cent rise in volume of retail sales comes after a small decline of 0.1 per cent in the last quarter of 2012, suggesting a slight recovery in consumer confidence and purchasing at the start of the year.”
But CBI Scotland assistant director David Lonsdale warned: “The Scottish Government’s £95 million rates surcharge on larger retailers, introduced last year, and this year’s rates rise on empty shops, is the wrong approach. The plans for a new environmental levy on carrier bags could prove a further costly administrative headache for retailers.”