By Daniel Hunter

In September 2013 total Scottish sales increased by 1.8% compared with September 2012, when they had increased by 1.0%. Like-for-like sales decreased by 0.8% on last September, when they had decreased by 0.8%. Taking account of shop price deflation at 0.2%, September total sales were up 2.0% in real terms.

Although September sales slowed down versus recent months, the three-month average, at 3.1%, remained well ahead of the 12-month average at 1.2%.

Total food sales were 2.3% up on September 2012, when they had increased 3.4%. Total non-food sales increased by 1.4% on a year earlier when they had decreased by 1.2%.

September total sales growth was lower in Scotland than in the UK but the three-month averages remained very close.

Fiona Moriarty, Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: "After a strong summer, these more subdued figures serve as a reminder that, while recent months have seen some shafts of light, the path to economic recovery remains fragile. While Scottish consumer confidence remained fairly stable in September, many of us are still cautious, and may be holding back on spending until Christmas gets closer.

"The ‘other non-food' category was the month's best performer for the first time since January 2011, partially fuelled by strong demand for tablets, games and gadgets. In contrast, clothing and footwear had a less positive month, as while customers enjoyed browsing the new Autumn collections many held back on buying until colder, wetter weather arrived.

"This is certainly a slowdown after an impressive run during the summer months, and highlights that conditions remain challenging. However, retailers are continuing to respond well to their customers' needs, and will be hoping that this slight dip is reversed as we move into the crucial pre-Christmas trading period."

David McCorquodale, Head of Retail, KPMG, said: "Every recovery suffers some form of setback and September's sales figures in Scotland provide just that. Having matched UK total sales for the past three months, Scotland's figures fell behind this month.

"Food sales grew by just less than inflation but the setback was most felt in clothing and footwear where the warmer, drier weather resulted in consumers holding off replenishing their wardrobes. Consumers' habit of spending when they need to, rather than when they want to, means fashion retailers are now more exposed than normal to weather patterns. With Autumn-Winter collections out, I'm sure many will be hoping for a cold snap.

"Despite a setback, the forward momentum has been maintained in September and now the focus will be on the build up to Christmas, with retailers determined to hold on to their margins as keenly as possible, while the ever-informed consumer holds out for a bargain. I look forward, with more confidence than trepidation, to a better Christmas on the High Street."

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