Number of shoppers hits five-month low

THE high street and shopping centres saw shoppers desert in droves in June in the worst footfall performance in five months, the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC)reveals today.

David Lonsdale says Scotland is undoubtedly sluggish
David Lonsdale says Scotland is undoubtedly sluggish

But the SRC said its members hoped the recent changes in the UK Budget, which included a jump in the Living Wage to £9 by the end of this parliament, would lift consumer spirits and drive footfall in future. Footfall numbers in Scotland fell 2.4 per cent in June compared to a year ago, worse than the 1.8 per cent fall in May 2015, the SRC’s Springboard footfall and vacancies monitor said.

This was the worst performance since January 2015 and significantly below the three-month average rate of minus 1.1 per cent.

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All parts of the UK saw a decline in customer numbers last month, with Northern Ireland and Wales down notably, by 3.5 per cent and 3 per cent respectively.

David Lonsdale, director of the SRC, said the latest Scottish data was “undoubtedly sluggish”, but added that it was only the third month in the past year where footfall in stores had not shown positive growth.

“Until the June data for Scottish retail sales is published later this week we won’t know if this decrease in footfall has had any measurable impact on actual sales,” Lonsdale said.

“Retailers will, however, be hoping that the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s twiddling of the fiscal dials in the Budget earlier this month will help it lift consumer spirits and generate greater levels of confidence and propensity to spend going forward.”

Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, said most of June’s retail footfall decline was due to a worsening performance in shopping centres and “the continuing dilution of shopper numbers through online trading”.