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Surge from festive food shopping helps boost High Street sales

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Total sales in December dropped by 0.2% compared with the same month the previous year, the best performance for almost two years.

Like-for-like sales, which strip out factors such as new store openings, decreased 0.4%, according to the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC)-KPMG retail sales monitor.

Total Scottish sales increased by 1.8% when adjusted for deflation.

SRC director David Lonsdale attributed the upturn to an increase in total food sales, up 1.1% on the previous December.

He said: “This positive set of results for December provided a final flourish to what was otherwise a tepid 2015 as a whole for retail sales in Scotland.

“Once adjusted for falling shop prices, total retail sales increased by a commendable 1.8% last month, the best performance in almost two years.

“This was largely driven by purchases of festive food and drink in the run-up to Christmas, although non-food categories continued to gather momentum, most notably online.”

Adjusted for the effect of online shopping, total non-food sales in Scotland increased by 1.8%, the second best performance of 2015.

Clothing and footwear sales was the worst-performing category in December, reporting the weakest performance in four months.

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: “Heavy rain and flooding meant shoppers took to the keyboard rather than the high street and unseasonably warm weather led to the fashion sector suffering a bit of a wash-out, ending the year on a wave of discounts and online returns.

“Spending on home and electricals benefited with the overhang from Black Friday and a welcome post-Christmas boost.

“However, the surprise winner in Scotland for the festive season was the beleaguered grocery market, which delivered both product and price to provide some encouragement for the year ahead.”