WINTER clothing discounts and Valentines gifts spurred a rare rise in Scottish retail sales in February.
Total sales increased by 0.7% compared with February 2017, when they had decreased by 1.9%, the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) found.
The February 2018 figure is above the three-month and 12-month averages of 0.5% and 0.2% respectively, with food sales increasing 3.5% on last year.
Discounts on outdoor clothes for the winter weather aided a slow down in the decline of non-food sales which fell by 1.6% compared to February 2017, when they had decreased by 4.4%.
SRC director David Lonsdale said: “Scottish retail sales turned in a creditable performance last month, prior to the widespread snow disruption, with a resumption in growth above that witnessed over the past few months.
“This was once again driven by the food category, aided in part by grocery and drink sales associated with St Valentine’s Day, and by better sales of clothing and footwear spurred on by discounting of winter and outdoor wear.
“The polarisation between food and non-food retail sales was less marked than before, with the latter recording a much shallower rate of decline than over recent months.”
Craig Cavin, KPMG head of retail in Scotland, added: “Following a challenging January, Scottish retailers will be cautiously optimistic as figures show signs of improvement this month. Indeed, total growth of 0.7% in February is an accomplishment in the current retail environment.
“Food sales continue to fuel retail growth, with inflation playing a significant role in the 3.5% increase, although it eased slightly in February.
“Performance in non-food sales was disappointing once again, as consumers continue to migrate online. This, teamed with rising costs for retailers, is continuing to put pressure on our high streets.
“The impact of one of the coldest winters on record also remains to be seen. Retailers will need to adapt and think of new ways to encourage spending over the next few months through focusing on a differentiated proposition and staying relevant to the consumer.”
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