Scotland’s shop sales rise for third month in row

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SALES on Scotland’s high streets have increased for the third month in a row, new figures have revealed.

Total sales in February were 0.7 per cent up on the same month last year, with retail chiefs describing the performance as “encouraging”.

But they also warned the trading environment for retailers was still “fragile”, with Scottish sales growth lagging behind the UK as a whole.

Across the UK, total sales were up by 4.4 per cent in February, while like-for-like sales – which strip out factors such as new store openings – were 2.7 per cent higher than the same month last year.

In Scotland, like-for-like sales in February were 0.1 per cent lower than they were 12 months ago, the latest Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) KPMG retail sales monitor revealed.

While total sales rose by 0.7 per cent, when shop-price inflation was taken into consideration they had fallen by 0.3 per cent in real terms. Total food sales were up 2 per cent on last year. Non-food sales fell 0.5 per cent compared to a year ago – but apart from Christmas, this was the strongest performance since March last year.

SRC head of policy David Martin said: “This is an encouraging result, with February being the third consecutive month of Scottish sales growth and the best three-month average in nearly two years. However, total sales didn’t measure up well against those in January and in real terms were down 0.3 per cent.

“This reminds us that the economy and trading environment remains fragile.

“Non-food sales continued to rebound in February, showing the strongest performance since March 2012 if pre-Christmas trading is excluded.

Mr Martin also said the gap between Scottish sales growth and that for the UK as a whole widened again in February, “returning to what has been the norm for around two years”.