Consumers cautious as Christmas approaches

A drop in the number of people visiting high streets has been �attributed by experts to pre-Christmas caution. Picture: TSPL

A drop in the number of people visiting high streets has been �attributed by experts to pre-Christmas caution. Picture: TSPL

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A SIGNIFICANT drop in the number of people visiting Scotland’s high streets has been ­attributed by retail experts to pre-Christmas caution.

Last month, footfall dropped to the lowest level since March after a strong result in August – which had suggested that consumer spending was showing signs of recovery.

The 2.7 per cent year-on-year fall was larger than that of the UK as a whole, at 2.4 per cent, according to figures today from the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC). Its director, Fiona Moriarty, described the slide north of the Border as “disappointing”.

She said: “While recent months have hinted at economic recovery, many of us are still cautious about making major purchases and may want to focus on managing budgets ahead of Christmas.

“We saw a similar story in last week’s Scottish sales figures, which reported a slowdown after strong growth in the summer months.”

The latest SRC/KPMG retail sales monitor showed total sales for the month were up by just 1.8 per cent on September last year, against 4 per cent and 3.5 per cent in July and August.

Moriarty added: “There’s been better news in recent weeks, with signs that customers are ­responding well to autumn collections and thoughts are turning to the festive season.”

Diane Wehrle, retail insights director at Springboard, which co-authored the footfall report, said: “Footfall generally declines over the month from August to September in high streets and shopping centres, as spending tails off with the end of the holiday and back-to-school periods.

“However, this year the 5 per cent drop in footfall in high streets and 2.1 per cent drop in footfall in shopping centres from August to September was more significant.”

• Scottish households saw a modest 0.6 per cent year-on-year growth in average discretionary income last month, largely thanks to strengthening local labour markets, a report by Asda today revealed. Across the UK, income fell slightly.

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