By Max Clarke

Retail sales in Scotland plummeted by 2.1% in August, compared to the year before, renewing concerns about recovery north of the border.

By contrast, growth in July for the whole of the UK stood at 0.2%- a figure that was deemed ‘painful’, despite remaining positive.

"There's little to be optimistic about here,” commented Richard Dodd, Scottish Retail Consortium Head of Media. “After May's minus 1.1 per cent, this is the second worst annual drop in total sales since we began compiling these figures in 1999.”

Food sales slowed after picking up in July. Non-food sales fell further below their year-earlier level. Clothing and footwear showed larger declines, despite increased discounting. Big-ticket homewares purchases were still often deal-driven, hit by fragile consumer confidence and the weak housing market.

"The negative sentiment on Scotland's high streets continued in August,” commented David McCorquodale, Head of Retail in Scotland, KPMG. “The decline in like-for-like sales in food and drink needs to be considered against a backdrop of food inflation in the last year and the continuing trend of the consumer staying at home to eat and drink rather than going to restaurants and bars. This suggests that consumers are trading down to cheaper meats and home baking whilst at the same time seeking out the best promotions on offer rather than being loyal to any one grocer.”

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