Easter chocolate treats lead the charge as Scottish retail fights off the big March freeze
THE economy appears to be warming up at last, with Scottish food shops enjoying their best quarter since March 2011. Like-for-like food sales were up 3.8% on last March, with total sales up 5.2%. The cold weather and an early Easter both helped food at the expense of other areas of spending, with families buying holiday treats and chocolates.
It’s part of an upward trend – after a disappointing February, March’s figures have matched January’s healthy performance, which could show the economy is going in a positive direction.
Overall retail sales figures are less cheering, as the bad weather hit sales of new season clothes and footwear.
Fiona Moriarty, director general of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “While Scottish sales growth still lags behind the UK as a whole, this puts both the like-for-like and total three-month average firmly back into positive territory after a fairly subdued February.
“This is a respectable result considering the impact of the coldest March for 50 years. But we need to bear in mind that
the Easter weekend flatters the figures, as it fell in March this year but April in 2012. With no bank holiday boost on offer
this April, Scottish retailers will be hoping that growth doesn’t go in the other direction after such a promising start to the year.”
David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, added: “Total sales growth of 1.8% will be welcomed by Scottish retailers but the trend is impacted by an early Easter and extended winter weather.
“The first quarter gave the strongest start to a year since 2011 and retailers will now be hoping their fortunes improve as the weather heats up. The coming months will give us a far greater insight into the wider market resilience but after a good start to 2013 there will be hope of more to come.”