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Retail sales uplift 'shows ongoing recovery' of Scottish economy

Retail sales volumes in Scotland increased by 2.4% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2015, compared to a 4.4% rise across Britain.

Compared to the previous quarter, sales in Scotland rose 0.8%, while in Britain they were up 0.7%, according to the latest Retail Sales Index for Scotland.

The value of Scottish retail sales, without adjusting for inflation, was flat year-on-year and up 0.6% on Q1.

Sales at large retail businesses (with at least 250 employees) were flat. Small and medium-sized businesses, which account for 30% of retail sales in Scotland, saw an increase of 2.3%.

Long-term trends show sales at large businesses grew consistently over the five years to 2013, but the pace of growth has been weaker since the second half of 2013. Smaller companies have enjoyed a rise in volumes over the past two years following a declining trend until the first half of 2012.

Scotland’s deputy first minister John Swinney said: “These latest retail figures highlight the ongoing recovery of the Scottish economy; 2014 saw the fastest level of economic growth since 2006, unemployment is falling and real wages are up, all of which should feed through to household incomes.

“We are working hard to support Scotland’s retailers, with the most competitive business tax environment anywhere in the UK, with 96,000 properties across all sectors of the Scottish economy paying zero or reduced business rates.”

But Scottish Retail Consortium director David Lonsdale said: “With the value of retail sales over the past year as a whole decidedly flat, this suggests a continuing fragility to consumer confidence in Scotland, despite lower prices in shops and average pay rises outstripping inflation.

“The prospects for retailers are ultimately determined by the state of the economy and their own ability to adapt and seize on the opportunities that arise.

“However, these figures do bring into sharp focus big upcoming decisions which could affect disposable incomes and take-home pay, notably the setting of the new Scottish rate of income tax in next month’s Scottish Budget and the unveiling this autumn of the promised replacement of council tax.”

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