finance

Scottish footfall rises on April reopening



Scottish retail footfall decreased by 52.1% in April, a 14.2% increase from March, but below the UK average decline of 40.0%.

The latest Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) and Sensormatic figures – which compare 2021 with pre-pandemic 2019 figures – also showed that shopping centre footfall declined by 59.0% in April, up from -72.1% in March.

In April, footfall in Glasgow decreased by 51.8% compared with the same month in 2019 – a 16.4% improvement from March.

SRC director David Lonsdale said that all retail destinations saw some improvement, especially in city centres, during the final week of April as Covid restrictions ceased.

“While these figures are undoubtedly encouraging, there is some way to go before we can say that the industry has fully turned the page on the pandemic.

“Parts of the economic ecosystem upon which some shops depend have yet to re-open – including some eateries, cinemas, and city centre offices – while the cost of operating stores remains higher too in order to keep customers safe, given the need to spend on physical distancing and hygiene measures and PPE for staff.”

Andy Sumpter, retail consultant for Sensormatic Solutions, said that while footfall still remains 40% down compared to pre-pandemic levels, consumer demand signals for a return to in-store shopping were promising.

“Retailers will be hoping that the lift in shopper traffic as they reopen can be sustained past pent-up demand in order to fuel long-term recovery.

“Our research shows an overwhelming amount of consumer support for bricks-and-mortar retail, with 71% of shoppers vowing to make a conscious effort to shop in-store once retail’s reopened, with many having missed the experience of in-store shopping when lockdown shuttered shops and other saying ‘screen fatigue’ had set in.”

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Figures from Ipsos earlier this week backed up the latest findings, suggesting that shopper numbers were down just -6.2% in the first week after reopening on 26 April, compared to the same period in 2019.

By contrast, store footfall was down -28.9% during the first week of trading in England and Wales, from 12 April, compared to 2019. Scottish shoppers were apparently eager to return to stores, with the first day of trading seeing footfall rise 21.8% compared to 2019 levels.

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