THE value of Scottish retail sales showed a sharp year-on-year fall last month, as customers cut back on spending and the timing of Easter weighed, industry figures reveal.

The Scottish Retail Consortium’s latest monthly monitor, published today, shows the value of sales north of the Border in April was down by 3.4 per cent on a year earlier. Non-food sales, which constitute the more discretionary element of retail spending, were particularly weak.

Some retail sales were brought forward into March because Easter fell earlier this year, thus weighing on the April numbers. However, the underlying weakness of Scottish retail sales is underlined by the fact that their value in March was up just 0.8% on the same month of last year, even with the boost provided by the earlier Easter.

The SRC calculated the year-on-year fall in Scottish retail sales volumes in April at 2.4%, when adjusted for annual shop-price deflation of 1% on the basis of UK figures from the British Retail Consortium and market researcher Nielsen.

Ewan MacDonald-Russell, head of policy and external affairs at the SRC, said this was the steepest year-on-year fall in Scottish retail sales in real terms in any month since April 2013. The value of non-food sales in Scotland in April was down 5.5% on the same month of last year. Food sales value last month was down 0.8% on a year earlier.

Mr MacDonald-Russell said: “Retailers will be feeling decidedly queasy with these post-Easter figures. Granted April was distorted but it was the toughest month since April 2013, with shoppers cutting back on both food and non-food purchases.”