Scottish retail weathers January storms and economic chill
There has been a 2.7% decrease in Scottish retail footfall, slightly better than the UK average of 2.8% year-on-year during the period of 31 December 2023 to 27 January 2024, the latest SRC-Sensormatic IQ data reveals.
Shopping centre footfall in Scotland also declined by 1.4% in January, 0.8 percentage points worse than December.
In Edinburgh, footfall increased by 3.2% year-on-year, contrasting with a 7.0% decrease in Glasgow during the same period. The challenging conditions were highlighted by David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, who pointed to the impact of Storms Isha and Jocelyn and persistent cost-of-living concerns.
Mr Lonsdale stated that January began positively as consumers sought January discounts, but foot traffic weakened throughout the month, plummeting during the final trading week due to the storms. It marks the fourth consecutive month of declining footfall. Shopping centres and Glasgow experienced marginal declines, while Edinburgh’s positive performance was the weakest since October.
Looking forward, Mr Lonsdale said: “Retailers will be hoping that visits to stores will be buoyed by the continuing improvement in real terms wage growth as well as the cut to national insurance contributions and with shop price inflation now at a two-year low.
“An improvement will be needed as retailers contend with a remorseless rise in statutory costs which will serve to make it more expensive to operate physical stores.”
Andy Sumpter, retail consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, added: “With disruption from two named storms in January dampening footfall on the High Street, retailers also faced tempestuous trading conditions caused by the ongoing cost-of-living spending squeeze and stubbornly sticky inflation.
“This will come as a further blow to retailers who already faced a tough December and Golden Quarter period, dashing hopes that the new year might signal the beginning of a bounce back.
“Many will now be hoping as inflation continues to slow, consumer confidence will start to rise enough to loosen the squeeze on incomes to the point that this begins to materially translate into both footfall and sales.”