Storms took heavy toll on retailers in January, analysis shows

The Scottish Retail Consortium said footfall in shops was down 2.7% year-on-year during the month.

A drop in footfall recorded in Scottish shops during January was partly down to extremely poor weather, an industry body has said.

Overall footfall in stores was down 2.7% year-on-year during the month, according to an analysis of how many consumers visited stores.

The Scottish Retail Consortium said the month started out promisingly for retailers with plenty of shoppers out and about to bag a bargain in the January sales.

However it said footfall then “plummeted” later in the month as two named storms brought strong winds and heavy rain to city centres and other retail spots.

Shopping centre footfall in Scotland dipped 1.4% in January, 0.8 percentage points worse than the preceding month, according to the analysis.

One of the few positives of the analysis is that footfall in Edinburgh increased by 3.2% year-on-year, compared to Glasgow where it fell 7%.

The findings come after a disappointing December during which overall footfall was down 2.2%

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Stormy weather and lingering cost-of-living concerns took their toll on visits to Scotland’s stores in January.

“The month started off well as consumers went out to take advantage of the traditional January discounting, however visits to stores progressively weakened during the month and plummeted in the final trading week as Storms Isha and Jocelyn hit and kept shoppers away.

“It was an inauspicious start to the year and a fourth successive month of declining footfall.

“Foot traffic was marginally down in shopping centres and remained weak in Glasgow, albeit the decline in the city’s footfall was less pronounced than over recent months.

“Edinburgh continued to see a positive year-on-year uplift, however it was the weakest performance since October and the second weakest monthly performance over the past 12 months.

“Looking forward, retailers will be hoping that visits to stores will be buoyed by the continuing improvement in real terms wage growth as well as the cut to national insurance contributions and with shop price inflation now at a two-year low.

“An improvement will be needed as retailers contend with a remorseless rise in statutory costs which will serve to make it more expensive to operate physical stores.”

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