Celebrations and bargains are behind an increase in sales on Scotland’s high streets in January.
Total sales grew 1.3% last month, giving a figure of 1.7% when adjusted for inflation, according to the SRC-KPMG Scottish Retail Sales Monitor.
The monthly report found total food sales rose 2.7%, while non-food sales, adjusted for the impact of online retail, grew 1.1%.
Analysis indicates the January sales largely drove the growth, with New Year and Burns Night also boosting the figures.
Ewan MacDonald-Russell, Scottish Retail Consortium’s head of policy and external affairs, said: “Real-terms sales growth of 1.7% will bring a little relief to the high street, especially given the more broadly based pick-up across categories, but it remains to be seen if that uplift will be sustained over the next few months.
“Food sales were particularly strong, with Hogmanay and Burns Night celebrations during the period, although it’s likely at least some of the 2.7% increase was the result of inflation.
“Non-food sales were up by 1.1% with small electricals, DIY items, mobile phones and furniture doing well.
“A portion of those sales were driven by discounting and so the better performance may translate not into increased but into smaller margins.
“Fashion and footwear sales continued to be sluggish, with a combination of wet weather and customers concerns over sustainability appearing to inhibit purchases.”
Paul Martin, UK Head of Retail for KPMG, said the Scottish total sales figure “compares favourably” with the rest of the UK, which recorded 0.4% growth in the same period.
He added: “January is typically a challenging month for Scotland’s retail sector, so any rise – however modest – will be a small victory for the industry following an incredibly challenging 2019.
“It’s too early to say with complete certainty that we’re entering a period of renewed consumer confidence but with total sales increasing by 1.3% compared with January 2019, it’s been a positive start to 2020.
“Greater certainty over Brexit has undoubtedly played its part in encouraging shoppers to spend more but there are some indications that the return to growth is being driven primarily by aggressive sales and marketing activity by high street retailers, which isn’t always good news for bottom lines.”