SCOTTISH retail sales were flat in volume terms in the fourth quarter of last year, but rose by 1.1 per cent in value terms as consumers paid more for the same quantity of goods, seasonally-adjusted figures reveal.

The figures, published yesterday by the Scottish Government, underline the pressure on household incomes, with a surge in inflation arising from sterling’s post-Brexit vote weakness having led to renewed falls in real pay in the UK.

Retail sales in Great Britain as a whole were up by a modest 0.4 per cent in volume terms between the third and fourth quarters, albeit this was better than the flat position in Scotland. The Scottish Retail Consortium has flagged the relatively greater strength of sales in London and south-east England.

SRC director David Lonsdale focused on the 1.1 per cent quarter-on-quarter rise in the value of sales in Scotland in the final three months of last year.

He said: “Our own surveys noted a more optimistic trading environment for Scottish retailers in the final part of last year and this is confirmed in this latest data, albeit the uplift in values will be flattered somewhat by rising food price inflation.

“This more positive news is welcome at a time when retailers continue to grapple with changes in shopping habits and with inflation persistently outstripping wage growth, which is making life hard for shoppers and shopkeepers alike.”

A survey published today by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors shows an increase in housebuilding drove an overall marginal rise in construction activity in Scotland in the fourth quarter of 2017.