Positive start for high street in 2016 as footfall rises

Rising numbers of shoppers got the Scottish high street off to a positive start to 2016, a new survey out today reveals.

Scottish footfall numbers rose 1.5 per cent in January. Picture: Toby Williams

Scottish footfall numbers rose 1.5 per cent in January on the same month last year, and were up on the 0.2 per cent rise recorded the previous month.

The figures in the latest Scottish Retail Consortium-Springboard Footfall monitor were the best since March 2015 and outstripped the UK average of 1.2 per cent.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

However, less positively, the report said the shop vacancy rate in Scotland in January was 9.1 per cent, a rise from 8.7 per cent in the previous quarter, underlining the headwinds facing the retail sector.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “This second successive month of growth in shopper footfall is encouraging and may point to a more positive start to the year for retailers after what was a decidedly downbeat 2015 as a whole for the industry in Scotland.

“By contrast, however, the deterioration in the shop vacancy rate is less welcome. One in every 11 shops in our town centres is empty, higher than the comparable figure for the UK.”

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard, said: “Evidence shows the driving force in the drop in vacancies across the UK to be an increase in pop-ups and temporary lets in the run up to Christmas and which are still occupied.

“It seems that Scotland’s retail destinations are lagging behind in the demand from occupiers for space which is a challenge moving forward into 2016.”