Retail sales in Scotland have increased but the growth is less than for the UK as a whole, new figures have revealed.
The volume of sales rose by 0.8 per cent in the second quarter of this year, while the value of these sales was up by 0.6 per cent over that period.
Compared to the same period in 2013, sales volume is up by 2.9 per cent, while the value has increased 2.6 per cent.
The new figures, which were published by the Scottish Government, were welcomed by Finance Secretary John Swinney and retail chiefs, with Scottish Retail Consortium director David Lonsdale describing them as “heartening”.
But across the UK, the overall volume of sales grew by 1.6 per cent in the second quarter of this year and was up by 4.5 per cent over the year.
The value of sales rose by 1.5 per cent across the UK in the period April to June, leaving this 4.1 per cent higher than the same period in 2013.
Mr Lonsdale called for more action from ministers to help boost sales in Scotland.
He said: “The increase in retail sales over the past 12 months is heartening and mirrors the findings of our own Scottish survey.
“While it is ultimately up to retailers to work hard to sustain this, government at every level can assist by channelling their collective energies into ensuring that the retail industry, Scotland’s largest private sector employer, is even better placed to be able to invest, expand and create jobs.
“Policies which put money into people’s pockets, keep down the cost of doing business and facilitate retail investment and expansion should be prioritised.”
Mr Swinney said the latest retail sales index figures “show that retail sales performance have continued to grow over the past year”.
He added: “These figures follow on from recent GDP and labour market statistics, which show employment in Scotland has increased over the quarter for 17 consecutive monthly releases, the longest ever unbroken run of increasing quarterly employment. Scotland’s GDP also grew 1 per cent over the quarter, faster than the UK as a whole.
“These positive figures highlight the significant economic progress being made in Scotland. This continued growth in Scotland’s economy is helping to create more jobs and opportunities for the people of Scotland.”
He went on: “For the first time, the Retail Sales Index contains additional analysis of the retail sector by business size. These figures show large retail businesses saw an increase of 0.5 per cent in sales in the second quarter of 2014 and small & medium businesses, also rose by 1.3 per cent over the same period.
“By continuing to invest in businesses we can help build sustainable economic growth for Scotland and highlight the country’s position as a place of international trade and investment.”