Retail picks up

Flicker of hope for shops in ‘least worst’ footfall data

Multrees Walk, shop, retail, Edinburgh
Shops hope to benefit as workers return to offices (pic: Terry Murden)

Scotland’s retailers saw a flicker of hope in the latest data showing footfall decreased by 16.2% in January compared to the same month two years ago, a 6.6 percentage point improvement on December. This is also above the UK average decline of 17.1% (Yo2Y).

Shopping Centre footfall declined by 36.6% in January (Yo2Y) in Scotland, down from a decline of 31.9% in December.

David Lonsdale, director at the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Visits to Scotland’s retail destinations finally saw a slight improvement with January showing the least-worst footfall figures witnessed since the onset of the Covid crisis twenty-two months ago.

“Footfall was down by a sixth on pre-pandemic levels demonstrating there is still a long way to go before any return to normal trading.

“The modest uptick will provide retailers with a flicker of hope that Scots are beginning to rediscover the pleasure of in-person shopping as the Covid situation eases, which will hopefully be lifted further following the rescinding this week of the work-from-home order and the return of commuters and office workers.”

Andy Sumpter, retail consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, commented: “Total retail shopper traffic in Scotland improved on December’s figures, breaking the pre-Christmas plateau we had seen in footfall’s recovery and recovering to the highest point since the start of the pandemic.”

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “It was a slow start to 2022, with only minor improvements to UK footfall despite a significant decline in Covid cases. Indeed, it was quality over quantity in January: fewer people visited retail parks and shopping centres, but those who did went to more stores at each location.

“It is likely the January sales influenced this behaviour, encouraging consumers to shop around to find the best deals.”

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