SCOTTISH retail sales showed their biggest year-on-year rise in value terms since January 2014 in May, as warm and sunny weather provided a fillip to the hard-pressed sector, industry figures show.

The latest figures from the Scottish Retail Consortium, published today, show sales value north of the Border last month was up 2.6 per cent on May 2017. This followed a 3.4% year-on-year fall in Scottish retail sales value in April, which reflected underlying sector weakness and the fact that Easter fell earlier this year.

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The food category drove the year-on-year rise in sales last month. Food sales value in May was up by 4.2% on a year earlier.

Non-food sales showed a 1.4% year-on-year rise in value terms last month, as demand for summer clothing ranges and garden furniture and barbecues was boosted by the warm weather. Excluding distortions related to the timing of Easter, this was the best year-on-year movement in non-food sales value in any month since January 2014.

SRC director David Lonsdale said: “Clearly one swallow doesn’t make a summer, but May’s positive figures are a balm for hard-pressed retailers. The figures show consumers shifting their attention to spending time outdoors which, when combined with a release of pent-up demand, saw a broadly based pick-up in retail sales over the month.”

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He added: “It is heartening that a broader range of categories crucial to the overall health of the retail industry pointed in a positive direction last month. However, this has to be tempered in light of the continuing pressures on household disposable incomes. Retailers will have to work hard to sustain this growth by constantly improving their offer.”

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