According to a survey, the main streets of Scotland experienced an “inhospitable winter” in December because festive shoppers failed to significantly increase sales.
The SRC-KPMG retail sales monitor found that total sales increased 0.4%, compared to the same month of 2018.
But the figures were biased by Black Friday, which was included in the December 2019 figures compared to November of the previous year.
Looking at the two months combined, sales fell year on year by 0.9%.
When adjusted for deflation, the decrease in real time for November and December was 0.5%.
Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) director David Lonsdale said Christmas food sales were positive, and consumers were able to take advantage of the war on vegetable prices as supermarkets reduced the price of basic food traditional as Brussels sprouts and parsnips.
Gins and soft drinks also sold well during the period.
Non-food sales were mixed, with kitchen appliances, Bluetooth devices and beauty ranges with reasonably good performance, while clothing and footwear had problems.
Mr. Lonsdale said: “It was more bleak in the middle of winter than in fun parties for Scottish retailers, as purchases were reduced during the critical Christmas trading period.”
On a positive note, adjusted online sales increased 0.3% year-round, exceeding the UK’s decline of 0.1%.
KPMG retail sales manager Paul Martin said: “The latest figures reflect the overwhelming challenges facing the main streets of Scotland.
“2019 was dominated by the loss of a series of high-profile retail names and it seems that the usual fever before Christmas has failed to change fortunes significantly.”
He added: “With greater clarity about Brexit and a slight increase in overall business optimism, we could see that consumer confidence returns.
“But retailers face significant challenges, driven by a wide variety of factors, from a reduction in traditional demand to new channels, higher costs and continued economic uncertainty.”