GARDEN furniture, barbecues and summer clothing all saw a spike in sales last month, leading to an overall upsurge in sales for Scottish retailers.

Days on end of sunshine and high temperatures in May saw total sales in Scotland increase by 2.6% compared with May 2017 – when they fell by 0.2% – Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) figures show.

Against the backdrop of some high-profile stores struggling to make ends meet in recent times, the SRC called the spike in sales a “a balm for hard-pressed retailers”.

Related to an increase in barbecues being sold, food sales saw an increase of 4.2% when compared to May 2017, which is above the year’s average of 4.1%.

Non-food sales last month increased by 1.4%, compared with a 3.8% drop 12 month previous, making it the best performance by the sector since January 2014.

“Following a challenging April, retailers can breathe a sigh of relief after May delivered a much-needed sales uplift in Scotland,” said Paul Martin, head of retail for KPMG .

“The sun shining inevitably drove Scots outdoors, with weekend picnics and bank holiday BBQs helping to drive a 4.2% growth in food sales. Similarly, non-food also benefited from the sunshine, with more footfall at the shops resulting in a noticeable increase in summer range sales.

“Nevertheless, non-food sales continue to lag slightly behind the three-month UK equivalent, and Scotland is by no means insulated from the wider challenges facing the retail industry more broadly.”

While welcoming last month’s impressive figures for the sector, SRC director David Lonsdale urged caution.

“Clearly one swallow doesn’t make a summer, but May’s positive figures are a balm for hard-pressed retailers,” he said.

“The figures show consumers shifting their attention to spending time outdoors which, when combined with a release of pent-up demand, saw a broadly based pick-up in retail sales over the month.

“As a result total retail sales, adjusted for falling shop prices, recorded their best monthly performance in almost four-and-a-half years.

He continued: “Sales of garden furniture, BBQs, and summer-related clothing, footwear and food performed well, as did gaming and TVs driven by demand for new titles and upcoming sporting events.

“In contrast household appliances and home accessories fared less well.

“It is heartening that a broader range of categories crucial to the overall health of the retail industry pointed in a positive direction last month, however this has to be tempered in light of the continuing pressures on household disposable incomes.”

Meanwhile, the UK Government says it is working with the retail sector to protect jobs, a business minister has insisted, following a string of big-name high street job loss warnings.

Shadow business minister Bill Esterson raised the issue of retail job losses during Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy questions in the Commons.

He pointed to the fact that 6000 House of Fraser jobs were at risk, along with 5000 jobs at Poundworld after the bargain chain store entered administration earlier this week.

Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility Andrew Griffiths said that he understood “the challenges that those businesses face”.