According to the latest SRC-KPMG retail sales monitor, March saw total Scottish sales decrease by 2.5% compared with March 2013, when they had increased by 1.8%.
Like-for-like sales decreased by 3.8% on last March, when they had increased by 0.9%. Taking account of shop price deflation, March total sales were down 0.8% in real terms.
Total Food sales were 3.5% down on March 2013, when they had increased 5.2%. This year's figure is distorted by the timing of Easter, which will fall in April this year but was in March last year.
Total Non-Food sales decreased by 1.8% on a year earlier when they had decreased by 1.4%. Adjusted more comprehensively for the estimated effect of online sales, total Non-Food sales would have decreased by 0.2%.
David Lonsdale, Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: "Although these figures show a decline, they are stronger than expected given the fact that Easter will fall so late this year. A particularly strong performance in the fashion and footwear categories shows that shoppers are taking advantage of popular new collections on offer. Scottish retailers are working hard to respond to what customers want in this sector, and it is paying dividends.
"Unsurprisingly compared to last year, categories that perform strongly over the extended Easter break have seen lower sales. Household accessories and furniture are often key purchases over the holiday, and have seen a decline. In line with the rest of the UK, food sales are affected by the intense competition within this category.
"These results follow a strong start to the year in January but retailers will be looking forward to April's results to see how this balances out over the period. Going further, retailers will be buoyed by the news that household income has finally caught up with inflation for the first time in nearly six years. The crucial factor is whether this trend will continue and also translate into higher levels of confidence and more transactions."