By Daniel Hunter

In May 2013 total Scottish sales increased by 0.8% compared with May 2012, when they had increased by 0.1%. Like-for-like sales decreased by 0.5% on last May, when they had decreased by 1.2%. Taking account of shop price deflation at 0.1%, May total sales were up 0.9% in real terms.

Total food sales were 1.5% up on May 2012, when they had increased 3.8%. Total non-food sales increased by 0.2% on a year earlier when they had decreased by 3.4%. The improvement was driven by Other Non-Food rather than fashion sales.

May total growth was above the 12-month average growth of 0.3%, but below that of the UK, at 3.4%.

Fiona Moriarty, Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: "This is a fairly solid showing which chimes with rising levels of consumer confidence in Scotland. Customers remain price-conscious, but the signs are that they entered May a little more willing to spend, especially on value ranges. Retailers read the shifting public mood well and offered well-timed and targeted promotions to draw in shoppers on the look-out for a good deal. This was one of the key factors behind non-food excluding fashion posting its strongest result in 20 months excluding Christmas.

"While May ushered in some welcome weather more suited to spring after the unseasonably chilly preceding months, conditions were still volatile. This led to a mixed month for the fashion category: the first signs of sunshine fuelled demand for spring and summer ranges, but changes in temperature made for stop-start progress across the month.

"These are slow but steady figures which will prompt mixed feelings from Scottish retailers. While the gap has widened again with the UK, the result is up on the 12 month average of 0.3 per cent. Retailers will be hoping that this tentative boost gathers momentum as we head into the summer."

David McCorquodale, Head of Retail, KPMG, said: "May's sales figures reflect the relationship between retailers and the Scottish consumer. On the positive side, total sales grew by 0.8 per cent, exceeding the average growth for the last 12 months. Non-food sales put in their best performance since April 2011, excluding the Christmas periods.

"However, with the weather remaining mixed, the cold truth is Scottish sales are trailing behind the UK's, which this month saw a healthy 3.4 per cent boost to sales. Total food sales grew by less than inflation and non-food sales growth was a mere 0.2 per cent driven by electricals.

"Yes spending is up, but only just, and it remains an uphill struggle for retailers who are fighting over every pound that enters the tills. This battle for their share of consumer wallets will remain fierce and retailers must keep a watchful eye on their own margins as they try every form of promotional activity to secure sales. Perhaps a few weeks of summer weather will make a difference, but I believe the majority of retailers face a hard-fought campaign to persuade consumers to part with their hard-earned cash."

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