By Daniel Hunter
In August 2013 total Scottish sales increased by 3.5% compared with August 2012, when they had declined by 0.9%. Like-for-like sales increased by 0.8% on last August, when they had decreased by 2.7%. Taking account of shop price deflation at 0.5%, August total sales were up 4.0% in real terms.
This was the best August total growth in Scotland since 2009. The three-month average continued to accelerate to 3.4% versus a 12-month average of 1.2%.
Total food sales were 3.6% up on August 2012, when they had increased 2.4%. Total non-food sales increased by 3.4% on a year earlier when they had decreased by 4.1%.
The three-month average total sales growth is now in line with that of the UK at 3.4%.
Fiona Moriarty, Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: "The best August since 2009 has helped to keep the positive momentum going following a record-breaking July. Combined with a recent uplift in Scottish consumer confidence, the signs are that many of us are increasingly feeling more optimistic about the economy and responding well to retailers' targeted promotions and new ranges.
"The best growth was seen in food: even if it wasn't in line with its exceptional July result, it still had a solid showing buoyed by barbeque and picnic fare on warm days but also more wintry food when the temperatures cooled down.
"Non-food also fared well, bouncing back after the previous year when many of us favoured watching the Olympics over shopping. Technology and home improvement items sold best but clothing and footwear would have been disappointing without a good start to the back-to-school season, which boosted childrenswear sales.
"This is another strong result almost equal to the UK and matching its three month average of 3.4 per cent. That's a very encouraging quarter which puts Scottish retailers in a good position as we shift to a new season and start getting into gear for the all-important Christmas countdown."
David McCorquodale, Head of Retail, KPMG, said: "The welcome warmth of summer continued to stoke the tills on the High Street in August. As the sunshine continued and media reports hinted at increases in consumer confidence, shoppers responded to give retailers another positive month.
"Fashion retailers and garden centres benefitted from the weather but the surprise package was the uplift in sales of furniture and flooring which, due to its higher ticket price, gives the strongest indication of returning consumer confidence. The slight decline in food sales on a like-for-like basis is primarily due to the Olympic effect last year.
"With schools back and the heat of the summer cooling, the retail sector is now focussing on Autumn/Winter collections and Christmas campaigns. Controlling the cost base and managing working capital remain critical for retailers hoping that the uplift in consumer confidence is sustainable."
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