Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) director David Lonsdale believes there has never been a better time for Scottish shoppers.
But in the same SRC’s New Year message, Mr Lonsdale also highlights major challenges for the country’s retailers amid “stiff” competition and changing shopping habits.
He said: “Three years of falling shop prices has coincided with a technology revolution. That’s led to customers being able to choose how they get their products at the time and place that suits, and at a price in real terms which has seldom been lower.
“However, for Scotland’s retailers much of the data from 2016 – on retail sales, footfall and shop vacancies – has made for sober reading, especially against a backdrop of further shifts in shopping habits and stiff competition.
“This has been compounded by official figures … showing a continuing drop in the numbers of shops and retail jobs.
“That said, the final few months of the year ended on a more upbeat note, with a modest and welcome uplift in retail sales in Scotland.”
He added: “In many respects our economy lives or dies by what happens to consumer spending.
“That’s why policymakers should be concerned about the formidable challenges for Scottish retail in the year ahead.
“Rising inflation and council taxes are likely to put a strain on disposable incomes, however, households will be relieved by the Scottish Government’s decision not to increase income tax rates – an area on which the SRC and government are firmly at one.
“Retailers themselves continue to grapple with a hotchpotch of government-imposed cost pressures.
“This is set to continue into early 2017, when employers of scale start forking-out for the Apprenticeship Levy.
“This reinforces the need for government at every level to work more effectively with the retail industry to help it keep down the cost of living for consumers and to help it thrive and prosper.”