Shoppers start returning to stores ahead of 'critical' Christmas

In October, footfall rose 1.4% compared to the month before, the Scottish Retail Consortium said on Friday.

Scottish shopper footfall up but still below pre-covid levels, says Scottish Retail Consortium iStock

The number of people walking through the doors of Scottish stores was up last month but still remains well below pre-pandemic levels.

In October, footfall rose 1.4% compared to the month before, the Scottish Retail Consortium said on Friday, but was down by 12% compared to the same month before coronavirus wreaked havoc on the economy.

David Lonsdale, director of the retail body, described it as a “modest but nonetheless slightly more chipper set of results for shopper footfall in the early part of what is the critical ‘golden quarter’ of festive trading”.

The figures meant Scottish stores recorded their second-best monthly performance of the year, but were still down an eighth on pre-pandemic levels, making them slightly worse than the average UK decline of 11.8%.

According to data from the retail body, shopping centre footfall was 18.6% lower in October than compared to the same month three years ago, an improvement from a drop of 19.7% in September.

In Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city, footfall was 9.1% lower than the pre-pandemic level, 1.3% better than September.

On a year-on-year basis, total footfall in Scotland went up by 5.8%, some 7.1% at the nation’s shopping centres, and in Glasgow by 10.1%.

Mr Lonsdale said: “Retailers’ promotions, new seasonal ranges and signs of early festive purchasing helped drive a broad-based improvement across all retail destinations.

“Shopping centres secured their best foot-traffic performance of 2022 and Glasgow nudged into single digits for the first time.

“The trick as ever for retailers is converting this uptick into actual sales at the tills and sustaining the improvement against a backdrop in which concerns over the cost of living and disruption on the railways show little sign of abating.”

Andy Sumpter, of Sensormatic Solutions, said: “As consumers and retailers both adapt to what’s being coined the ‘new abnormal’, in which economic and political uncertainty creates new – and increasingly frequent – curveballs, retailers will be hoping to minimise disruption to safeguard their Christmas performance.

“Furthermore, with planned postal strikes in November risking disruption to Black Friday deliveries, retailers will be encouraging shoppers to head in store, rather than risking delayed deliveries when shopping online for Black Friday deals.”

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