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Retail sales in Scotland fell by 2.5% in March 2014, compared to a 1.8% rise in the corresponding period a year ago.

Like-for-like sales fell by 3.8% in March, while they had increased by 0.9% in the same period a year ago, according to report released by Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) & KPMG.

After taking account of shop price deflation, total retail sales were down 0.8%, in real terms.

During the period, total Food sales were down 3.5% on a year earlier due to intense competition within this category. Non-food sales decreased by 1.8%.

Adjusted more comprehensively for the estimated effect of online sales, total Non-Food sales would have decreased by 0.2%.

Scottish Retail Consortium director David Lonsdale said that although March figures show a decline, they are stronger than expected given the fact that Easter will fall so late this year.

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"A particularly strong performance in the fashion and footwear categories shows that shoppers are taking advantage of popular new collections on offer.

"Unsurprisingly compared to last year, categories that perform strongly over the extended Easter break have seen lower sales. Household accessories and furniture are often key purchases over the holiday, and have seen a decline," Lonsdale added.

KPMG Retail head David McCorquodale said the timing of Easter – April this year, March last year – distorts the sales figures and exaggerates the decline in Scottish sales.

"Total food sales in Scotland for the three months to March fell by 1.2% compared with a decline of 0.6% in the rest of the UK, hinting that the Scottish consumer is being cautious and canny in spending on necessities, and perhaps being more alert to the discounting of the grocers," McCorquodale added.