SCOTLAND’S beleaguered retail sector was given a major Easter holiday boost, as the number of people to hit the high street over the bank holiday rocketed by a fifth – more than anywhere else in the UK.
Shoppers turned out in their droves in Edinburgh, where footfall – the number of people recorded in towns and shopping centres – shot up by 84 per cent, compared with the holiday weekend last year.
Glasgow also reported a strong increase of 15 per cent, according to retail analyst Springboard, while Stirling also enjoyed a 5 per cent rise.
Experts said the number of shoppers was boosted by dry weather and the timing of the celebration, which fell just after payday for many workers.
Springboard, which monitors footfall across all retail locations, reported that retail parks and shopping centres also experienced a strong boost.
Retailers had previously feared that the wintry weather would mean consumers would travel to warmer climates to spend the two bank holidays.
Overall, out-of-town destinations saw the number of visitors rise by almost 1.4 per cent, while other covered shopping centres witnessed an increase of 7.8 per cent on last year.
“I think there’s a bit of a stay-at-home feeling this year because of the bad weather,” said Gordon Emslie, a retail specialist at Falkirk-based GNE Consulting. “Things picked up for retail in February, then the cold weather in March made things a bit sluggish again.
“I think that instead of going away for Easter as they did last year, people are taking advantage of what’s on offer in their home towns.”
Shopper presence on British high streets was up 8 per cent on Good Friday in 2012 and 4 per cent in out-of-town centres.
“The crisp, dry weather clearly encouraged people to venture out this Easter,” said Diane Wehrle, retail insights director at Springboard.
“This Easter hit after a payday weekend, and struggling retailers will be thankful for that,” she added. The cold but dry weather had encouraged shoppers to combine shopping with visits to historic towns, boosting footfall by 16 per cent on Good Friday and 8 per cent on Easter Saturday.
Ms Wehrle added: “Places with lots to offer have done the best – so that people have combined a day trip or a visit to a tourist attraction with a day’s shopping.
“I think people feel that, despite the gloomy Budget, they still want to go out and enjoy themselves and don’t really see eating out or going to a café as a spend.”