Shop footfall still well below pre-pandemic levels, data shows

Despite shoppers' return to the high street, compared with April 2019 numbers remain less than half.

Shop footfall still well below pre-pandemic levels, data shows iStock

Shoppers returned to the high street in April but footfall is still well below pre-pandemic levels, according to a retail body.

Figures recorded by the Scottish Retail Consortium and Sensormatic IQ show footfall to Scotland’s shops increased by 14.2% from March.

The Scottish Government relaxed coronavirus restrictions to expand the definition of non-essential retail at the beginning of April, and then allowed all stores to welcome back customers from April 26.

The statistics show large drops in comparison to the same period before the pandemic, with footfall down 52.1% in April compared to 2019.

This is greater than the UK average decline of 40%.

Shopping centre footfall declined by 59% in April in comparison to the same month in 2019, but this was up from a 72.1% decline in March.

Footfall in Glasgow decreased by 51.8%, a 16.4% improvement from March.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Shopper footfall in Scotland began to recover in April in line with the phased reopening of retail from lockdown.

“All retail destinations saw some improvement, especially in city centres during the final week of April as stultifying Covid restrictions ceased and shoppers took the opportunity to seek out their favourite stores.

“While these figures are undoubtedly encouraging, there is some way to go before we can say that the industry has fully turned the page on the pandemic.

“Parts of the economic ecosystem upon which some shops depend have yet to reopen – including some eateries, cinemas and city centre offices. The cost of operating stores remains higher too in order to keep customers safe, given the need to spend on physical distancing and hygiene measures and PPE for staff.

“As such, the next few months remain challenging. That’s why we encourage shoppers to make a point of getting out and supporting their favourite stores over the coming weeks, in turn helping to sustain these businesses and the local jobs they provide, as well as the vitality of our retail destinations.”

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