Page last updated at 23:40 GMT, Tuesday, 21 April 2009 00:40 UK

Scots retail bucks bleak UK trend

Scottish bank notes
Warmer weather contributed to the boost in March sales

Retail sales in Scotland recovered in March from a February dip, faring better than sales levels in the UK as a whole, according to figures.

The Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) Retail Sales Monitor shows like-for-like sales were up 0.5% compared with the same period in 2008.

In contrast, UK-wide figures for March show a drop of 1.2% from the same time last year.

But the SRC warned the Scottish figures were "still very weak" overall.

The consortium said the onset of warmer weather after a cold winter had helped boost sales, creating greater interest in spring and summer clothing ranges, garden furniture, and outdoor and DIY equipment.

Conditions remain tough for customers and retailers
Fiona Moriarty

The weather conditions were an improvement on March 2008, which saw some snowfall.

The upturn in sales follows a collapse in February which represented the biggest fall in Scottish retail sales for eight years.

Fiona Moriarty, director of the SRC, said: "Retailers are hoping the increase in sales growth is the first sign of a spring boost.

"But this doesn't mean the Scottish economy has turned a corner.

"Conditions remain tough for customers and retailers."

She added: "Retailers want the Budget to help, not hinder, this glimpse of revival in consumer confidence."

The sales figures, measured between 1 March and 4 April 2009, showed a continuing gap between the success of food and non-food sectors.

Ms Moriarty said non-food sectors of the retail industry continued to be hit badly by the recession during March.

"While food sales continued to grow and new season fashions did well, most non-food retailing struggled - especially expensive items, such as furniture and floorings."

Like-for-like sales in the food sector were up 4.8% on the same time last year, due in part to food price inflation remaining high.

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