In April, Scotland experienced a rise in sales, but the fashion sector fell behind in comparison to the strong performance of the food industry. Although the Easter holiday provided a boost, the overall growth was not as significant as the previous year. The Scottish Retail Consortium reported a 9% increase in retail sales between April 2nd and 29th. However, after adjusting for inflation, the year-on-year growth was only 0.3%.

According to the Scottish Retail Consortium, the Easter period had a modest impact on retail sales in Scotland. Discretionary spending, particularly in clothing and footwear, took a backseat to food shopping. This resulted in a clear divide in performance between food and non-food categories. David Lonsdale, the director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, highlighted that retail sales returned to positive territory during this period, driven by health and beauty purchases, as well as home and garden improvements.

When looking at like-for-like sales, Scottish sales in April saw a 6.2% increase compared to the same period in 2022. However, this growth marked a decrease from the significant 12.7% growth observed the previous year. Non-food sales also experienced a modest increase of only 3.9% in April, in contrast to the substantial leap of 25.7% in 2022. Adjusted for the estimated impact of online sales, non-food sales grew by 2.5%, compared to April 2022’s growth of 18.8%.

Paul Martin, the UK Head of Retail at KPMG, noted that clothing and footwear sales did not perform as strongly as anticipated, potentially due to the lack of sunny weather last month. He also emphasized the potential challenges ahead as government energy support ends for many and household bills rise. Martin highlighted the importance of controlling food inflation to enable consumers to comfortably spend on non-essential items.

Overall, while April sales in Scotland showed improvement, the fashion industry struggled to compete with the dominance of food sales. The challenges presented by inflation, interest rates, and increasing household bills may continue to impact consumer spending in the coming months.

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