Flicker of hope for Scottish shopper footfall as rates rise by 6.6% in January

Scottish footfall decreased by 16.2% in January (Yo2Y), a 6.6 percentage point improvement on December, according to the latest Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) and Sensormatic IQ Footfall Monitor.

Flicker of hope for Scottish shopper footfall as rates rise by 6.6% in January

This is above the UK average decline of 17.1% (Yo2Y).

Shopping Centre footfall declined by 36.6% in January (Yo2Y) in Scotland, down from a decline of 31.9% in December.

At the same time, footfall in Glasgow decreased by 17.6% (Yo2Y), a 4.2 percentage point improvement on December.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Visits to Scotland’s retail destinations finally saw a slight improvement with January showing the least-worst footfall figures witnessed since the onset of the Covid crisis twenty-two months ago. Footfall was down by a sixth on pre-pandemic levels demonstrating there is still a long way to go before any return to normal trading.

“The modest uptick will provide retailers with a flicker of hope that Scots are beginning to rediscover the pleasure of in-person shopping as the Covid situation eases, which will hopefully be lifted further following the rescinding this week of the work-from-home order and the return of commuters and office workers.”

He added: “The upturn wasn’t felt across all retail destinations though. Footfall in shopping centres fared particularly poorly in January, recording its worst performance since lockdown ended last Spring. This is perhaps unsurprising as stores in shopping centres are often disproportionally geared towards fashion, which would have felt the impact of public health instructions to shun socialising. They may have been held back too as Scots reined in their discretionary spending after the festive period and as shoppers contemplated the recent rises in inflation.

“The recovery in Scottish footfall remains protracted and still lags many other parts of the UK. While this uptick in the level of physical shopping will lift retailers’ spirits, there remains some way to go before the industry can say it has turned the page on the pandemic.

“The health of our economy is highly dependent on what happens to consumer spending, and the coming months remain challenging with inflation and tax and other cost pressures building. Retailers are playing their part in trying to tempt shoppers, but policy makers could entice Scots back to our retail destinations - through temporary discounts to the cost of public transport or parking, or by giving every adult a voucher to spend in shops or eateries like Northern Ireland has done.”

Andy Sumpter, retail consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, commented: “Total retail shopper traffic in Scotland improved on December’s figures, breaking the pre-Christmas plateau we had seen in footfall’s recovery and recovering to the highest point since the start of the pandemic. Retailers will be hoping this continued consumer confidence will remain and put a spring in to the step of the High Street.”

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