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Scottish retail hit by worst slump since 1999 Wednesday, 15th February 2012
Retailers in Scotland have suffered their worst monthly sales performance for more than a decade, according to figures released by the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC).
Total sales in January were 1.5 per cent down on last year - the largest decline for any month since 1999.
Like-for-like (LFL) sales saw their worst decline since May.
Food sales jumped 2.8 per cent, but the increase was outweighed by far weaker non-food sales.
The SRC said increased promotional activity in clearance sales failed to overcome consumer caution and big-ticket homewares were hit especially hard.
Scottish Retail Consortium director Ian Shearer said the decline in sales had "set alarm bells ringing" for Scottish retailers.
He continued: "Combined, as it is, with some above-inflation cost pressures, there are potentially worrying implications for Scotland's largest private-sector employer.
"The good news is food sales growth picked up after a disappointing December but non-food sales fell dramatically, despite all the discounts and promotions, which themselves hit margins."
Mr Shearer said customers had "confronted reality again" since Christmas.
He added: "Consumer confidence remains low, Scottish household incomes are being squeezed by increased utility and fuel prices, and continued fears over job prospects and the wider economy are front-of-mind for many - deterring purchases which are not immediate needs."