Scottish ‘footfall’ figures best for seven months

David Lonsdale
David Lonsdale

Footfall numbers in Scotland were 1.7 per cent higher in March than a year ago and up on the 1.2 per cent rise in February, according to the latest data from the Scottish Retail Consortium.

The figure marks the best performance since September 2014 and significantly above the UK average of 0.2 per cent.

High Streets were the only location to report a decline, falling 1.4 per cent and footfall in out-of-town locations fared the best with a 3.8 per cent increase year-on-year, while shopping centres reported a 0.4 per cent rise.

The figures showed more Scottish shoppers are clicking online and collecting at retail parks as the country embraces the fastest-growing buying experience. The SRC said there are three times as many shoppers buying online and picking up at stores north of the border than in the UK as a whole.

Across the UK, five regions and countries reported footfall above the UK average, with the East, Scotland and the South West reporting the greatest increases.

David Lonsdale, Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “These are heartening figures and record a second successive monthly expansion in footfall growth across Scotland’s shopping destinations. This is the best performance since September and means footfall in Scotland has risen in ten of the past twelve months, comparing favourably with other parts of the UK.

“Retailers are clearly working hard to attract custom through improved service, pricing and promotions but whether this - coupled with encouraging news of late on rising employment and wages - translates into a greater propensity to spend in shops or online remains to be seen. We should have a better understanding when our retail sales data is released next week.

“The outcome of the UK General Election is only three weeks away, and the retail industry in Scotland is looking to the next government to deliver a convincing plan to boost business and consumer confidence.”

Diane Wehrle, Marketing and Insights Director at Springboard, said:The 1.7 per cent increase in footfall in Scotland’s retail destinations in March compares favourably to the 0.2 per cent increase across the UK. However, the polarisation of shopper activity was far more pronounced in Scotland, with footfall in out-of-town locations increasing by 12.7 per cent compared with 3.8 per cent in retail parks across the UK, but with decreases in footfall in both high streets and shopping centres.

“A number of factors came into play to bring about this uplift in retail parks which included the occurrence of Easter two weeks earlier than last year which meant that the two key trading days of Good Friday and Easter Saturday fell in the March trading period this year rather than in April; and the ongoing and apparently accelerating attractiveness of retail parks to shoppers – in itself a result of a number of changes in both their format as many become more leisure oriented, and their role as key click and collect points for online transactions.”

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