Clothing Sales Help Boost Retailers

Retailers enjoyed a sales boost as shoppers updated their wardrobes with seasonal clothes, according to a survey.

Clothing and footwear returned the strongest performance in more than three years, the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) said.

Total sales of non-food items grew by more than 2% in the 12 months to April.

SRC director David Lonsdale said: "This was driven by shoppers' updating their wardrobes with seasonal wear and through purchases of children's clothing.

"Sales of bigger-ticket items such as furniture, gardening, DIY and materials for revamping the home also did well, and total food sales picked up too.

"What is most heartening is that a broader range of indicators crucial to the health of Scotland's retail industry have begun pointing in a more positive direction.

"Retail sales and footfall are both up, and the number of empty retail properties has fallen. Retailers will, of course, work hard to sustain this.

"Government and local authorities, however, can play their part by channelling their collective energies into ensuring that the retail industry, which is after all Scotland's largest private-sector employer, is even better-placed to be able to invest, expand and create jobs.''

Food sales grew 1.1% over the same period, the SRC said, leaving an overall increase across sales goods of 1.9%.

But concerns remain that growth is fragile.

David McCorquodale, head of retail at professional services firm KPMG, said: "April's bounce back due to a late Easter was more muted than hoped for in Scotland, reminding us how hard retailers are working to drive sales growth in this slowly-recovering economy.''