Total retail sales in Scotland increased by 2.6% in May compared to a decrease of 0.2% in May 2017, the Scottish Retail Consortium reports, as good weather and bank holiday encouraged shoppers.
Like-for-like sales rose by 1.8% against a rise of 0.8% in May 2017, following a rise in sales of garden furniture, barbecues, summer clothing, footwear and food.
Non-food sales saw an increase of 1.4% compared to a decrease of 3.8% for the same period last year.
The sales figures were also above the three and 12-month averages of 2.8% and -2.9% respectively.
The SRC said these figures were the best on record since January 2014 – excluding Easter distortions.
However, welcoming last month’s figures, SRC director David Lonsdale urged caution.
“Clearly one swallow doesn’t make a summer, but May’s positive figures are a balm for hard-pressed retailers.
“The figures show consumers shifting their attention to spending time outdoors which, when combined with a release of pent-up demand, saw a broadly based pick-up in retail sales over the month.
“As a result total retail sales, adjusted for falling shop prices, recorded their best monthly performance in almost four-and-a-half years.”
KPMG head of retail in Scotland Craig Cavin added: “Following a challenging April, retailers can breathe a sigh of relief after May delivered a much-needed sales uplift in Scotland. Multiple bank holidays, coupled with an extended period of warm weather, contributed to the 2.3% increase – the highest we’ve seen since 2014.
“Nevertheless, non-food sales continue to lag slightly behind the three-month UK equivalent, and Scotland is by no means insulated from the wider challenges facing the retail industry more broadly. Across the country, businesses must focus on transforming both operationally and financially if they are to survive in a changing retail landscape.”