Shops boost

Taylor Swift shakes up Scotland’s retail figures

Swifties descended on Murrayfield in June (pic: Terry Murden / DB Media Services)

Taylor Swift worked her magic on Scotland’s retail sector last month, helping Scotland to buck an overall downturn in footfall.

Scotland’s shops saw a 0.2% uplift in June, year on year, the only nation to see an increase, with England down 2.6%, Wales 4.1% lower and Northern Ireland down 0.6%. Total UK footfall decreased by 2.3%.

UK high Street footfall fell by 3.1%, from 2.7% in May. Retail Park footfall was down by 0.4% while shopping centres saw a 3.2% fall.

Thousands of Taylor Swift fans descending on Edinburgh gave the city a 2.4% lift, while Glasgow was also up, by 2.2%.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “With June failing to live up to last year’s heatwave, overall footfall declined last month compared to the previous year.

“However retail parks and shopping centres did see an uptick compared to the previous month’s washout, and footfall levels in Edinburgh and Liverpool were boosted as Taylor Swift enchanted crowds of fans.

“Retailers are hoping that warmer weather and maybe, just maybe, a successful European Championships for England could bring footfall home this July.

“As the new government forms today, it is vital that the problems facing local communities are addressed in its first hundred days.

“Planning reform must be a priority – a fast-track planning system, which includes automatic approval in certain cases will give retailers tools to invest up and down the country.

“Speeding up these processes, alongside reform of business rates, will help town and city centres to thrive. With our high streets undergoing transformation, as properties are used more often for wider purposes beyond retail, these reforms are essential for successful regeneration of local areas across the UK and ensuring footfall recovers in the medium and longer term.”

Ewan MacDonald-Russell, deputy head of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “A modest 0.2% uplift in Scottish shopper footfall in June was nonetheless the best of a weak set of figures across the UK.  A welcome combination of concerts, events, and the Euros offset the cool weather to encourage Scots to visit retail destinations.

“Shopping Centres outperformed the national average, with a 1.2% increase.  After a difficult run Glasgow saw it’s first increase in footfall this year with a 2.2% increase, hopefully a sign that a stronger summer performance may be ahead after a difficult first half of 2024.

“Edinburgh narrowly pipped that performance with a 2.4% increase, in part from the Royal Highland Show and Taylor Swift’s concerts, continuing a solid series of figures.

“Despite this stronger performance high streets remain in a parlous condition.  As we move into the summer holidays retailers will be hoping for a sustained improvement in footfall to help offset the previous difficult months.

“They’ll also be hoping that the end of the General Election will mean the new UK Government can work with the Scottish Government and local authorities to prioritise economic growth.”

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