Like-for-like retail sales in Scotland fell by 3.2% in January as shoppers kept a firmer grip on their wallets after the festive period.
Total sales were down 3.5%, research by the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) and accountancy firm KPMG shows.
Total non-food sales fell 4.3% year on year. Adjusted to include estimated online sales, total non-food sales still decreased but to a lesser extent (by 1.8%).
David Lonsdale, director of the SRC, said: “These are somewhat dreich retail sales results for January, showing a dip of nearly 2% even when falling shop prices are taken into account.
“After the extravagances of the festive period, which saw solid sales growth in December, and indeed during the final few months of last year, shoppers were clearly keeping a firmer grip on purses and wallets in January, and focusing more on essential spending as lower footfall data for the period suggested.
“Non-food items fell back, even once increasingly popular online sales were factored in.
“With the chancellor’s spring Budget and commencement of the Brexit negotiations just a month or so away, Scotland’s retailers will be looking for measures that help them keep down prices for consumers, and for the prioritising of tariff-free trade with the rest of the European Union – especially on everyday staples such as food and clothing.
“The Scottish local authority elections are coming into view, and retailers are keen to see action that makes it easier and less costly to invest in our town centres, and which improves footfall.
”In particular, more widespread use of local discretionary powers to reduce business rates, and easier and more affordable parking for shoppers could help support struggling high streets.”
It has also been reported that Scottish retailers will be forced to hand over an extra £12m a year in business rates compared with their counterparts south of the border.
More than 5,000 shops will pay more in rates than those in England and Wales because the Scottish government intends to double a supplement levied on “large” business premises that comes into force in April, The Herald reported. The Westminster government has maintained the supplement at the present rate.