'Encouraging rise' in number of Scots shoppers returning to stores

Overall footfall was up 5.9% in July from last year – 6.8 percentage points better than June and the UK average increase of 1.8%.

Encouraging rise in number of shoppers returning to Scottish stores, says trade body iStock

There has been an encouraging rise in the number of shoppers browsing through stores in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK, according to the latest figures analysed by the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC).

The trade association said overall Scottish footfall was up 5.9% in July from last year – 6.8 percentage points better than June and higher than the UK average increase of 1.8%.

Regions such as the north east of England, London and the south east of England saw smaller increases in footfall, up 4.3%, 3.5% and 2.3% respectively.

Shopping centre footfall in Scotland was also up 4.3% in July year-on-year according to the figures produced by Sensormatic Solutions, 0.7 percentage points better than the previous month.

Edinburgh saw the greatest growth in footfall out of all cities in the UK last month, up 12.8%, with Glasgow experiencing a 1.6% rise.

Other cities with the highest growth in footfall over the same period included Liverpool, up 5.5%, Bristol with a increase of 3.8% and Leeds up the same figure.

David Lonsdale, director of the SRC, said the figures ought to be treated cautiously, however, pointing out the rise in footfall did not necessarily mean stores took in more money.

“Footfall across Scotland’s retail destinations sprouted last month, buoyed by the start of the school holidays, tourist visits, and retailers’ own discounting to attract custom,” he said.

“Scotland’s sprightly performance outshone every other part of the UK in July with every category of retail destination benefiting.

“While it was the best monthly performance since March, the fact remains that shopper foot-traffic remains shy of pre-pandemic levels.

“Enhanced levels of consumer confidence and spending will be central to Scotland’s economic recovery.

“Retailers are clearly working hard to attract visitors to stores through pricing and promotions but whether this translates into a greater propensity to spend at tills remains to be seen, especially given recent hikes in council tax, Scottish income tax and mortgage rates.

“A slight health warning with these figures is that more browsing doesn’t necessarily mean more buying, and so the hoped for positive knock-on implications of an expansion in foot-traffic cannot be taken for granted.

“As such, the Scottish Government should continue with its plans to pilot the removal of peak-time rail fares from October and be wary of adding any further pressure onto household finances.”

Andy Sumpter, retail consultant for Sensormatic Solutions, said: “Footfall saw a bounce back into positive figures in July, reversing the slowdown experienced in May and June.

“While retailers will welcome the uptick in shopper traffic, it will be with a sense of practical positivity.

“Many will be mindful they continue to serve a cost of living consumer, who remains cautious – and may well become more so with the prospect of further interest rates threatening spending power in the mid to long-term.

“Indeed, our data shows that much of the footfall recovery in July was shored up by strong performance in outlet retail, as shoppers turn to discount formats to make spend go further.

“And this is putting further pressure on retailers, already shouldering the burden of growing price sensitivity, to turn to discounting to drive demand.

“By doubling down on value-driven but experience-led propositions, retailers can build on the store’s revival as the shopping channel of choice.”

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