Food sales grew by 5.9% over Easter
The latest sales figures from the Scottish Retail Consortium have shown total sales grew 3.9% during March.
Like-for-like sales which strip out new store openings increased by 0.6%.
The growth in Scotland lags behind the rest of the UK which showed an increase in total sales of 6.6% and like-for-like up 4.4%.
The retail consortium described the figures as "disappointing" and suggested the recession had a tighter grip in Scotland.
The consortium said it had expected the figures to be stronger because of Easter.
David McCorquodale, head of retail in Scotland, KPMG, said: "The timing of the majority of Easter spending, falling into the March 2010 period but in April last year, ought to have boosted this month's figures.
"Without this uplift an even gloomier picture would have emerged - concern about the future continues to weigh on consumers' minds and the outlook for spending remains uncertain."
While spending on food and drink rose by 5.9% in March, there was weak growth in other areas, especially clothing and footwear.
Overall, all non-food sales grew by 2.2% and like-for-like sales shrank by 0.4%.
Richard Dodd, Scottish Retail Consortium head of media, said: "Another burst of wintry weather late in the month undermined new season ranges but weakening consumer confidence was the main problem.
"With a bigger proportion of Scottish jobs in the public sector than for the UK as a whole, pre-election uncertainty over spending cuts is having a disproportionately severe effect on Scottish customers' willingness to shop."