Retail like-for-likes in Scotland suffered their worst fall in 10 years during July - with the exception of April this year because of Easter distortions - when they slipped 1.4% year on year. Total sales advanced 0.8% in the month - the weakest growth since April 1999.

Food like-for-likes sales dropped 0.3% and non-food 2.5% the SRC-KPMG Scottish Retail Sales Monitor showed,and non-food sales also fell on a total basis by 0.8%.

Clothing and footwear sales were weak despite aggressive discounting and homewares were also hit hard as shoppers avoided big-ticket and discretionary items.

Scottish Retail Consortium director Fiona Moriarty said: “Scottish shoppers are clearly concerned about the current economic outlook, especially when it comes to job prospects. The latest official figures show unemployment is rising in Scotland and seems to be stoking existing nervousness about household spending.

“Weak consumer confidence means non-essential purchases are being put on hold. Customers are shopping carefully, looking for deals and value for money. Cautious shoppers are delaying spending on discretionary and big-ticket housing items.”

She added: “We’ve seen a run of months where trading conditions continue to weaken. Retailers will be hoping ‘back to school’, together with the new autumn and winter ranges will tempt shoppers to loosen the purse strings.”