The latest figures from the SRC for August 2014, show that total Scottish sales decreased by 0.3% compared with August 2013, when they had increased by 3.5%. Like-for-like sales decreased by 1.7% on last August, when they had increased by 0.8%.
Adjusted for deflation measured by the BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index, Total Scottish sales increased by 1.3% in August, the best growth since January, excluding Easter distortions.
Total Food sales were 1.8% down on August 2013, when they had increased 3.6%. This represents an improvement over July. Over the last three months, Total Food sales declined by 2.0%, compared to a decline of 0.3% over the last twelve months.
Total Non-Food sales increased by 0.9% on a year earlier when they had increased 3.4%. Adjusted for the estimated effect of online sales in Scotland, total Non-Food sales would have increased by 2.8%, the strongest growth since January, excluding Easter distortions.
The gap between the three-month average Food growth in the UK and Scotland has narrowed again in August. It stands at -2.0% in Scotland against -1.6% in the UK.
David Lonsdale, Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: "For the second month in succession a favourable rise in footfall on Scotland's high streets and shopping centres hasn't translated into an increase in actual sales. Total sales in August eased back 0.3 per cent compared to twelve months earlier, albeit after a strong performance during the same period last year.
"That said, once shop price inflation – which has fallen for sixteen consecutive months - is taken into account, Scottish retail sales witnessed their best performance since January. Clothing and footwear was the best performing category, with the new Autumn ranges already proving popular with shoppers. Other non-food related categories turned in their best performance since the start of the year.
"In contrast the grocery market remains particularly tough for retailers. Food price inflation is at a record low, and whilst the intense competition in the grocery sector brings benefits to Scottish consumers in terms of keen prices, it can be a challenging environment for the firms involved.
"Looking forward, retailers will be buoyed by recent more positive forecasts for employment, unemployment and wages, however the crucial factor will be when this will translate into higher levels of confidence and more transactions."