Rail strike impact on high street footfall revealed: Edinburgh fares better than most

Last week’s rail strikes hit the tentative post-pandemic recovery on the high street, though Edinburgh was less severely impacted than other parts of the UK, figures suggest.

Data from footfall firm Sensormatic IQ shows that the number of shoppers in the Scottish capital fell by 2.6 per cent across the week compared to the average of the prior four weeks.

The strike action took place on three days last week but the knock-on effects were felt throughout the week, according to the footfall statistics.

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Total UK footfall fell by an average of 3.9 per cent over the week, compared with the average of the previous four weeks.

Ewan MacDonald-Russell, head of policy at the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Edinburgh appears to have weathered the rail strike disruption better than the UK, with visits to the city centre only down by 2.6 per cent. Nonetheless, it’s still disappointing that the week of the Royal Highland Show has seen fewer visitors to the city than the previous month’s already disappointing average.

“After two very challenging years, and facing into the teeth of the cost of living crisis, Edinburgh, and indeed town and city centres across the country, are in desperate need of visitors to help retailers bounce back.”

Andy Sumpter of Sensormatic Solutions added: “After the buoyant boost to shopper numbers we saw over the Jubilee weekend, last week’s train strikes threaten to derail retail’s footfall recovery.

Retailers will be hoping that the dip in footfall will be short-lived and that shopper numbers even themselves out, as pent-up demand prompts consumers back on to the high street once the strike ends.”

Very few services were running out of Edinburgh's Waverley station during the strike action. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA
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