By Daniel Hunter

In July 2013 total Scottish sales increased by 4.0% compared with July 2012, when they had declined by 0.7%. Like-for-like sales increased by 1.4% on last July, when they had decreased by 2.2%.

Taking account of shop price deflation at almost 0.5%, July total sales were up 4.4% in real terms. July saw the best growth in total sales since April 2011 and the 3-month average continued to accelerate to 2.5% versus a 12-month average of 0.8%. Total food sales were 5.6% up on July 2012, when they had increased 0.1%, which was their best record since April 2011.

Total non-food sales increased by 2.6% on a year earlier when they had decreased by 1.5%, their best performance since December 2009. Total sales growth outpaced that of the UK for the first time since March 2011.

Fiona Moriarty, Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: "A double whammy of feel-good factors pushed Scottish sales growth into record-breaking territory in July. Sunshine and sporting successes boosted the public mood and willingness to spend further after a promising pick-up in June. This helped to deliver an excellent showing which tops the UK total for the first time since March 2011.

"Summer food, seasonal fashions and outdoor living products were stand-out performers in what was an impressive month. In the second warmest July on record, demand for picnic and barbeque fare drove a strong performance for food, while non-food leapt up to its best result since December 2009.

"By way of contrast, it was a disappointing month for furniture and other homewares, as appetite for ‘indoor living' was diminished and many people prioritised putting their money towards updating their summer wardrobes, taking advantage of the good deals on offer, and enjoying the sunshine.
"It's too early to tell whether what we're seeing is a welcome but short-lived uplift or the beginnings of longer-lasting economic recovery. But this run of good growth, bringing the three month average to 2.5 per cent, means things are certainly looking up for the time being."

David McCorquodale, Head of Retail, KPMG, said: "Scottish retailers served up an ace in July with growth in sales outpacing the rest of the UK for the first time in more than two years. Andy Murray's Wimbledon victory undoubtedly started the rally with celebration parties driving food and drink sales early in the month. A prolonged spell of summer weather then boosted sales of barbeques, burgers and beer.

"Those with most to smile about were the fashion retailers who, following an extended cold spring, finally got reward from consumers who had confidence in the weather to buy summer clothing. Some may have already started discounting and others were beginning to launch Autumn collections but undoubtedly most made the most of the summer sunshine to clear their summer collections.

"July was without doubt a good month on the Scottish High Street and, like the weather, was welcome and overdue. It is with cautious optimism that I look forward to the rest of the year. In the same way that Andy Murray would not anticipate an easy straight sets victory, our retailers will be fully focussed on preparing for a five set battle to Christmas rather than basking in the glory of a break of serve in July!"

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