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Footfall down by a third

‘Give us free parking to bring back shoppers’

Princes Street, Edinburgh

Scotland’s retailers are suffering ahead of Christmas (pic: Terry Murden)

Retail chiefs are calling for free parking and other incentives after new figures showed footfall in Scotland’s shopping centres and malls is down by a third on last year.

Despite the lifting of restrictions that allowed all retailers to reopen, shoppers continue to shun the high street amid warnings over using public transport and the need for social distancing.

BRC-Shoppertrak data for the month of October shows footfall in Scotland’s shopping centres and malls down 33% compared to the same period last year, only marginally better than the 35% drop in September and the 43% fall witnessed in August.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Shopper footfall continues to buckle under the weight of the pandemic, associated Covid restrictions and warnings about using public transport, and economic uncertainty.”

He said the figures “make for unnerving reading for retailers in this early part of the crucial Christmas trading period.”


Mr Lonsdale urged the authorities to come up with more ideas and incentives to encourage people to visit shops.

“Scotland’s shops will only survive with the patronage of the public, especially in the run up to the festive period,” he said.

“Retailers are playing their part in trying to tempt shoppers though promotions and pricing, but policy makers need to think more creatively too about how they can entice people back into our retail destinations, perhaps through free parking for the next seven weeks or vouchers or incentives to encourage customers to the shops.”

The situation was similar across the UK. Helen Dickinson, chief executive of British Retail Consortium, said: “High streets and shopping centres fared much worse as the public shunned city centres in favour of out of town locations with their on-site parking.

“Furthermore, the Government must wholeheartedly support those businesses they have forced to close, both now and in the future.

“With non-food shop sales still 30% down over the last six months, it is vital these retailers do not face a cliff-edge of 100% business rates liability from April 2021.”

  • Free parking to help retailers was one of the Daily Business editor’s 10 suggestions published in August to help to stimulate the economy

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