Scots shopper numbers drop by highest margin for 3 years

Footfall on Scottish high streets in November was the lowest since January 2013, according to a report. Picture: Hemedia

Footfall on Scottish high streets in November was the lowest since January 2013, according to a report. Picture: Hemedia

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Shopper numbers have fallen by the biggest margin for nearly three years as more people move towards buying online, according to a new report.

In November, footfall in Scotland was 4.2 per cent lower than a year ago, the worst performance since January 2013.

The figure, published in the monthly Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) Springboard Footfall Monitor, was also significantly down on a 0.6 per cent year-on-year fall in October.

Retail experts attributed the decline to a continued rise in online shopping, with Black Friday deals on most business websites last month attracting those who would previously have shopped on high streets or in town centres.

SRC director David Lonsdale said: “Shopper footfall in Scotland’s town centres last month recorded its worst performance in almost three years, as consumers sought to take advantage of online ‘Black Friday’ promotions and discounts which often ranged across several days.

“As a result November was the seventh month in a row in which shopper footfall in our town centres declined.

“Until the November data for Scottish retail sales is published later this week we won’t know what impact this plunge in footfall and surge in online shopping has on the total value of sales.

“Those retailers with a strong multichannel offer – allowing customers to shop in-store, at home and on the move – will have been well placed to capitalise on this further milestone in the development of our digital economy.”

There was better news for the country’s retail parks, which posted an average increase of 5.2 per cent in footfall over the past 26 months. Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard, said: “The learning from the UK-wide November footfall result indicates the winners were those destinations that continue to adopt the old school rules of retail – the three C’s of convenience, choice and customer service.

“Retail parks have these core principles at the heart of their offer, and as a result footfall has increased annually in Scotland’s retail parks in all but one of the past 26 consecutive months.

“Shoppers are increasingly seeking out this traditional retail destination.”

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