Sluggish retail

Footfall lower as shoppers remain cautious

St James Quarter interior

St James Quarter opened at the end of June (pic: Terry Murden)

Shopper visits to retail destinations in July showed a small improvement on the previous month, but footfall continues to be more than a quarter down on the equivalent month in 2019, according to the Scottish Retail Consortium.

The sluggish figures defied expectations that the heatwave, the easing of restrictions and the first full month of the St James Quarter in Edinburgh would bring out more shoppers.

Ewan MacDonald-Russell, head of policy and external affairs, said: “There is little sign Scottish shoppers are returning to retail destinations in the same numbers they did before the pandemic.

“As we have seen in recent months, out of town destinations continue to do best, whilst high streets, and especially shopping centres struggle to attract shoppers.

“With most Covid restrictions ending from the 9th of August, retailers will hope there is a late summer surge to Scotland’s shops. If that doesn’t transpire, Scottish Ministers should urgently consider what interventions they could make to encourage consumers back to the high street. 

“This could be through temporary free parking, an advertising campaign to encourage people back to city centres, or a high street voucher scheme like Northern Ireland is introducing. Despite the slight improvement this month, it’s clear retail is some way from recovering from the effects of Covid.”

Total UK Footfall decreased by 28% in July (Yo2Y), with a 0.4 percentage point decrease from June. Footfall in Scotland fell by 27.1%.

  • Footfall on high streets declined by 34.6% in July (Yo2Y)
  • Retail parks saw footfall decrease by 15% (Yo2Y)
  • Shopping centre footfall declined by 38.4% (Yo2Y)

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