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21 October 2015, 07:09
September was an upbeat month for retailers but they will "not be getting carried away'' amid a challenging trading environment, according to experts.
Figures contained in a new report show overall sales in Scotland decreased by 1.3% compared with the same month in the previous year, which had seen the worst decline of 2014 at 2.9%.
Like-for-like sales which exclude factors such as new store openings - were down by 1.7% on last September, when they had decreased by 4.2%.
The analysis was contained in the latest SRC-KPMG Scottish Retail Sales Monitor.
David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: "September saw better sales figures but retailers will not be getting carried away. Adjusted for deflation, sales in Scotland grew by 0.7%, the best growth for a year, excluding Easter distortions, but this is compared to the worst month of the last year.
"Food sales continued to decline in real terms as they have for the last 22 months, excluding Easter distortions, and much has already been said about the challenges in the grocery sector.
"There was better news in non-food, again compared to a period last year when referendum-fever had gripped the country and paused consumerism. Fashion sales were boosted by more seasonal weather and sales of household products also did well.
"However, with the gap widening against the rest of the UK, retailers in Scotland expect a lot of hard work ahead to achieve a reasonable Christmas season. Pricing and promotions will play a key role in driving demand and margin.''
Non-food categories, including clothing and footwear, performed well, as did furniture and home categories.
David Martin, of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: "Although September's retail figures were up against a soft comparable period last year with the worst performance of 2014, it doesn't detract from what was an upbeat month for retailers especially in the non-food categories.
"Looking ahead, the trading environment remains challenging for retailers not least in terms of the excessive burden of Government-imposed operating costs, however they will be hoping to capitalise on improvements in consumer confidence in the lead up to the Christmas period.''
Earlier this week a report revealed fair weather and bank holiday trading gave retailers a boost in September but shopper numbers were still down on last year's figures.