Easter tourists visiting Edinburgh 'boost Scottish retail performance'

The Scottish Retail Consortium said footfall north of the border rose 7.7% in April compared to the same month last year.

Easter tourists visiting Edinburgh boost Scottish retail performance, figures show georgeclerk via Getty Images

The number of shoppers at Scotland’s stores has increased, with tourists over Easter helping to provide a surge in footfall in Edinburgh, figures show.

Footfall north of the border rose 7.7% in April compared to the same month last year, the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) said on Friday.

Its data shows that in Edinburgh, shoppers increased by 29.4% last month compared to April 2022, which made it the top performing city in the UK.

London, in second place, saw a 10% year-on-year rise in footfall in April.

SRC director David Lonsdale said the rise was “especially marked”, and Edinburgh was “likely benefitting from the return of Easter tourists and office workers”.

In Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, footfall rose 3.3% in April compared to the same month last year. Meanwhile shopping centre visitors in April rose by 5.5%.

Mr Lonsdale warned that while there is “a little sunlight for retailers in these figures, there is a risk of a false dawn”.

He added: “The pace of growth last month slackened and was at its weakest level since last October, while Scottish foot-traffic was almost 16% down on pre-pandemic levels, underlining the protracted nature of the challenges facing much of retail.”

There is “still much work to do” to get town and city centres back to their former levels of footfall, Mr Lonsdale said, adding that one option to spur greater levels of footfall and entice shoppers back is to bring forward from October the pilot scheme to remove peak-time rail fares.

“That may help to make town and city centres more accessible, and consequentially attractive, to visitors, workers, and shoppers,” he said.

Compared to levels in 2019 before the pandemic, total footfall was 15.8% lower in April across Scotland, in shopping centres it was 14.7% down, in Edinburgh it was 14.7% lower, and in Glasgow it was down 13.8%.

While footfall increased in April compared to the year before, the rise was 4.3% weaker than in March, SRC said. Shopping centre footfall increases were 2.9% worse in April than the month before.

Scottish Conservative finance spokeswoman Liz Smith claimed retailers north of the border are at a “disadvantage” compared to those elsewhere in the UK.

She said: “In England and Wales, the UK Government is giving 75% rebates on business rates, but although the SNP Government has been given the funds to follow suit, they have chosen not to pass those on to firms in Scotland.

“Every area of public policy and spending depends on improving our growth and productivity, and Scotland is being hamstrung by the SNP’s anti-business stance.

“If Humza Yousaf is reviewing his programme for Government, he would do well to start with this, and give Scottish firms the support being offered elsewhere.”

The Scottish Government has been approached for comment.

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code