Data released by the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) has shown that total sales for March grew 0.6% compared to the corresponding period three years prior (Yo3Y).

The figure, covering the five weeks from 27 February to 2 April, was above both the three-month average decrease of 3.2% and 12-month decline of 7.3%.

During the month, Scottish sales were up 0.7% on a like-for-like (LFL) basis, compared with Yo3Y, and above the three-month and 12-month average decrease of 2.1% and 4.7%, respectively.

Total Food sales in the month rose 6.0%, compared with March 2019. The three-month average was below the UK level of 9.2% on a Yo3Y basis.

The SRC data also revealed that total non-food sales dropped by 3.9% in March compared to Yo3Y.

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SRC policy head Ewan MacDonald-Russell said: “March sales sparkled compared to recent months as shoppers returned to spending.

“This is the first-time sales have been close to pre-pandemic levels since the Covid crisis hit and coincides with the removal of nearly all Scottish Covid restrictions.

“However, these improved figures are at least in part a result of rising shop prices as retailers grapple with a host of inflationary costs.”

SRC expects costs to continue to worsen and the rising inflation to continue in April.

MacDonald-Russell added: “Food sales rose by 6% in March, driven by higher inflation alongside customers focusing more on eating at home than at eateries. Retailers also noted the endemic supply challenges had eased slightly this month; helping furniture and electrical shops.”

Last month, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) reported that UK retail sales grew by 6.7% on a total basis in February, compared with a 1.0% increase the previous year.