Scottish shops footfall down amid sales ‘humdrum’

FOOTFALL in Scottish shops fell for the first time since January last month as shoppers remained cautious, according to a new report.

High streets and shopping centres are leading the decline in sales.  Picture: John Devilin
High streets and shopping centres are leading the decline in sales. Picture: John Devilin

New figures showed that footfall numbers in Scotland in May were 1.8 per cent lower than a year ago, down on the 1.1 per cent rise in April 2015.

This is the worst performance since January 2015 and below the UK average of -1.0 per cent, according to the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC)/Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor, May 2015.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

High streets and shopping centres drove the decline while footfall in retail parks in Scotland rose for the 14th consecutive month.

David Lonsdale, director of the SRC, said: “The sustained growth in shopper footfall has been one of the economic bright spots over the past year, and so the slight contraction in footfall witnessed in May hopefully owes more to shoppers catching their breath than anything more serious.

“Indeed, this is the first reported dip in footfall since January and only the third since this time last year. We also have to bear in mind that Scottish retailers are increasingly adept at harnessing the internet and multi-channel innovations to get through to consumers who might not have time to travel to the shops.

“That said, shoppers undoubtedly remain cautious - despite growth in pay outstripping inflation - and retail sales remain humdrum. That’s why we are looking to the Chancellor to use his upcoming summer Budget to prioritise measures which bolster disposable incomes and consumer confidence.”

Across the UK as a whole footfall in May was 1.0 per cent lower than a year ago, down from the 0.8 per cent fall in April and below the three-month average of -0.5.

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard, said: ‘’The drop in footfall of 1.8 per cent in Scotland is a noticeable downward shift from the increase of 1.1 per cent in April.

“In line with the UK, it is high streets and shopping centres that drove the decline with drops of 3.6 per cent and 4.4 per cent respectively. Footfall in retail parks in Scotland rose for the 14th consecutive month, although the rate of increase dropped away from 9.5 per cent in April to 5.9 per cent in May.

“Recording an increase in footfall for the past 14 consecutive months averaging 5.8 per cent, retail parks are clearly the winners in the grab for consumers across Scotland’s bricks and mortar retail destinations.

“This brings into sharp contrast the increase of just 0.1 per cent in high streets and the drop of 1.7 per cent in shopping centres over the same period.”