Scotland's high streets turned in the best sales figures for almost two years last month.
Retail chiefs hailed the January figures as an "encouraging start to what's still likely to be a challenging 2013". Total sales for the month were 2.1% up on January 2012, according to the latest Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) KPMG retail sales monitor.
Meanwhile, like-for-like sales - which strip out factors such as new store openings - were 1.1% higher than 12 months ago. Both measures saw the best growth for 21 months.
Total food sales for January were 5.2% up on the same month in 2012, providing the strongest growth since April 2011. In real terms, non-food sales were down by 0.7% on the first month of 2012, compared with a 5.5% fall last January.
SRC director Fiona Moriarty said: "After battling consistently tough conditions through most of 2012, this is good news for Scottish retailers. The healthier pace of sales that finally developed in December gathered momentum in January to produce the strongest year-on-year growth since April 2011."
David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: "January's sales figures are the best we have seen in close to two years. With like-for-like sales up 1.1% last month, they built encouragingly on the modest progress made in December."
New Year's Eve was included in the January sales figures, helping boost food sales. Hot pies, pizzas and custard proved popular with shoppers seeking comfort food, but sales of fruit and vegetables were also lifted by detox dieters. Sales of Scottish produce increased as customers celebrated Burns Night.
After a good Christmas, clothing retailers had a more difficult time in January, with the cold weather meaning shoppers went for winter clothes rather than the new season ranges.
Sales of footwear were better, with men's shoes doing well because of strong demand for both boots and formal footwear. But furniture and flooring sales continued to suffer as a result of difficulties in the housing market and because shoppers are still wary about big purchases.
Finance Secretary John Swinney said: "Whilst this is just one measure of retail performance, this would appear to be welcome news for the Scottish economy and a good start for 2013. The retail sector can be assured that this Government is doing all we can to maintain Scotland's position as the most supportive business environment in the UK."