RETAILERS enjoyed a healthy rise in sales last month after disappointing trade in December.
The Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) said the year got off to a strong start for high street stores and shopping centres, with clothes, furniture and electrical goods selling well.
The latest figures show total sales increased by 4.3 per cent in January compared to the same month last year.
Like-for-like sales, which exclude spending in stores that opened or closed in the year, were up 2.5 per cent.
The post-Christmas period saw strong demand for slimming ranges at health and beauty stores while food sales were up just 1 per cent.
Meanwhile, the recovery in the housing market saw an increase in homeware purchases.
SRC director David Lonsdale said: “Scottish retailers will take heart from these sales figures, which represent a strong start to the year. They build on a generally positive 2013 and compensate significantly for the slightly poorer sales we reported in December 2013.
“Particularly strong results were seen in clothing, furniture and other non-food items such as electricals. When Scottish retailers have got their offer right, consumers have been enthusiastic about taking advantage of promotions, as well as buying from the new ranges in store.
“Food has performed slightly less well. However, over the last three months, food performance has been slightly above that in the rest of the UK. All Scottish retailers will be working hard on their offer to maintain the good momentum we have seen this month.”
David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: “Retailers in Scotland will have breathed a sigh of relief throughout January as the snow stayed away and consumers had the confidence to spend. While some of the growth in non-food has been achieved in the sales at reduced margins, there will be retailers who feel they’ve begun to move the dial in recovery terms.
“Drivers of growth have been clothing and footwear, particularly in the sales, and the continued march of electricals. However, the relief is perhaps best felt in furniture and flooring where house price growth has fuelled spending.
“Recovery has its ups and downs, and the prospect of a sharp winter blast has not yet gone away, so no retailer will be resting on its laurels. But this is a strong start to 2014 in Scotland and gives encouragement for the months ahead.”