Scottish retail sales increased for the third straight month in February 2013 with a 0.7% growth reported by the country’s retail consortium.

The corresponding figures in February 2012 had stood at a negative 0.6%.

Like-for-like sales for the month declined 0.1% for the month while the total February sales were down 0.3% in real terms, due to the 1.1% shop price inflation.

Scottish Retail Consortium head of policy David Martin remarked that the returns for February represent the best three-month average in nearly two years and continues an encouraging trend for the sector.

"However, total sales didn’t measure up well against those in January and in real terms were down 0.3%. This reminds us that the economy and trading environment remains fragile," cautioned Martin.

Total food sales for the month increase 2% year-on-year, while non-food sales declined 0.5%.

"Non-food sales continued to rebound in February, showing the strongest performance since March 2012 if pre-Christmas trading is excluded. Electricals drove much of this growth but furniture and flooring also did well," explained Martin.

Despite the increase in sales in Scotland, the gap compared to UK sales continued to widen in the month.

"The gap between Scottish sales growth and that for the UK as a whole widened again in February returning to what has been the norm for around two years. All in all, however, this is a satisfactory showing and should be welcomed with cautious optimism," said Martin.

KPMG head of retail David McCorquodale added, "The tendency for Scottish schools to take shorter half term breaks than their English and Welsh cousins meant that non-food sales didn’t quite feel the uplift seen in the South, despite being against soft comparables last year. However, the decline was not as steep as it’s been for some time and will thus be viewed with some relief.

"Retailers will now be hoping for an even stronger March, buoyed by Mother’s Day and Easter falling in the same month. The hope is that next week’s budget will deliver a fillip to stimulate consumer spending in the long term, and provide a much needed boost to the sector."