finance

Scots footfall plunge prompts consumer stimulus plea



Scottish retail footfall decreased by 66.3% in March, up 4.7% from February.

The latest Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) and Sensormatic IQ data, covering the five weeks 28 February and 3 April, also showed that shopping centre footfall declined by 72.1% in March, up from a 73.2% fall in February.

The statement noted that as 2020 saw much of retail bouncing between being open and closed – impacting footfall significantly – to make meaningful comparisons, all 2021 figures are compared with the pre-pandemic 2019.

In March, footfall in Glasgow decreased by 68.2%, up 3.8% from February.

SRC director David Lonsdale pointed out that visits to Scotland’s retail destinations languished two thirds lower than they would traditionally at this time of year, with city centres and shopping malls faring particularly badly.

“Thankfully, retail’s route out of lockdown is set to end later this month,” he continued, adding: “While reopening is crucial, it is far from being a cure-all – shops will be unable to trade at capacity due to physical distancing, and the broader ecosystem upon which much of retail depends is unlikely to have fully re-opened.”

Lonsdale said that questions remain over what demand will look like for the remainder of the year.

“That’s why the next devolved government should stand ready to play its part in enticing people back to our retail destinations, perhaps through free parking or vouchers to stimulate consumer spending and transactions as Northern Ireland is planning with its £145m High Street Stimulus Scheme.”

Andy Sumpter, EMEA retail consultant for Sensormatic Solutions, commented: “As the nation looks ahead to the roadmap for unlocking and with the hope of retail fully reopening on the horizon, we may have started to see the green shoots of retail’s recovery beginning as we saw an incremental improvement in March footfall against February’s shopper counts.

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“But, the real test comes when retail is able to fully reopen – and whether indeed that reopening is, as hoped, irreversible.

“After a year of yo-yoing in and out of lockdown, retailers will be hoping for stability and, once again, will be counting on the continued support of shoppers if any sort of bounce back is to be sustained.”

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