Scotland's shopping footfall stats at three-year-high

FOOTFALL in Scotland's high streets and retail parks has increased, however, retail experts say there is a worrying rise in the number of shop vacancies.

Scotland's footfall numbers are at the highest they have been in three years. Picture: Jon Savage

The number of people visiting retailers over a four-week period between April 2 and April 29 grew by 3.2%, according to analysis by the Scottish Retail Consortium.

The figure was the third fastest growth rate of all the nations and the fastest in Scotland since July 2014 and was “well above” the three-month average of 1.8%.

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Retail experts say footfall grew on the High Street and in retail parks, but fell in shopping centres.

Town centre vacancies rose marginally to 9.2% in April, however, this is lower than the average UK rate which fell to 9.3% in April from 9.4% in January.

Ewan MacDonald-Russell, head of policy & external affairs at the Scottish Retail Consortium said: “A mixed picture this quarter, with footfall rising but offset by a modest but nonetheless worrying increase in the high street vacancy rate.

“That shop vacancy rate is now standing at 9.2%, up from 9% in January and the highest figure in almost two years.

“In fact, these are the best shopper footfall figures in almost three years and the highest three-month average we’ve seen in Scotland since September 2014.

“Both high streets and retail parks saw strong rises in footfall, with a 3.2% rise into town centres across the quarter.

“The only area which has seen reduced footfall has been shopping centres, which have fallen by 2.5%.”

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at footfall analysts Springboard said Easter trading had an impact on the footfall figures.

She said: “As Easter fell in April this year as opposed to March last year, footfall in Scotland was boosted by +3.2%.

“This was demonstrated by a +4.9% rise in the first half of the month, which culminated in Good Friday and Easter Saturday, compared with a drop of -2.0% in the last two weeks.

“Footfall generally was fuelled by the weakened pound, driving both an increase in overseas tourists and in Easter staycations amongst domestic visitors demonstrated by a rise of +5.1% in coastal towns, and of +7.9 per cent in historic towns.”