Retailers suffer from uncertainty in May

Image caption,
Scottish retail figures continue to lag behind the rest of the UK

Retail sales figures have suggested that consumers were nervous about spending during May.

The Scottish Retail Consortium figures showed sales growing at a slower pace than in the rest of the UK - increasing by 2.4%.

Like-for-like sales, which do not take into account new store openings, fell by 0.8%.

The consortium said most shops had a tough month with consumers putting-off buying expensive items.

David McCorquodale, head of retail in Scotland for KPMG, which sponsors the survey, said: "The lack of a marked rise in any particular sector highlights that consumers are pegging back all spending, opting for necessities only, while doubt over the future remains."

Sunny spells gave a lift to some retailers with sales in barbecue food, sandals, sunglasses and rose wine picking up for a time.

World Cup sales

There was evidence that shoppers avoided spending on big ticket items like new kitchens and electrical goods, although sales of TVs appeared to be boosted by the World Cup.

The figures suggested Scottish shops are not faring as well as those in the rest of the UK.

Total sales there rose by 3% in May, with like-for-like spending increasing by 0.8%.

In his analysis, Mr McCorquodale speculated there might be a lift after the budget.

He said: "It is possible that consumers are waiting for the impending budget on 22 June before making any key decisions. The much talked-about possibility of a VAT rise may lead to a brief honeymoon period for retailers as consumers look to buy items ahead of any increase."

However, Richard Dodd of the Scottish Retail Consortium said: "We need a budget next week that doesn't further undermine this uncertain picture."

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