Sunshine over the Easter weekend helped bring a welcome boost to the numbers of people heading for Scotland’s high streets and retail parks, according to figures released today.
But data showing the first footfall increase in nine months came with a warning from an industry body that shop owners still face a challenge to convert higher shopper numbers into a better performance at the tills.
Today’s figures from the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) and Springboard revealed the country was the best performing across Britain, with an increase of 0.7%, while the UK average was -0.5%. The town centre vacancy rate also dropped to 9.8% last month, down from 12% in January and taking it below the national average of 10.2%.
David Lonsdale, SRC director, said: “This is a more favourable set of results. The resumption of growth in shopper footfall after nine months of decline is positive and bodes well ahead of the publication of our retail sales data for April.
“The challenge will be for retailers to convert that into an enhanced performance at tills, and it appears those retail destinations which benefited from rising footfall were the ones which offered consumers a ‘day out’ experience when shopping.”
The figures also show Scotland’s high streets were the best performing of all UK regions, with an increase of 1.8%.
Retail parks also saw an increase – with growth of 1% – but shopping centre footfall fell by 1.6% in April.
The numbers contrast with the same period in 2017, when footfall was 6.7% lower in high streets, 0.8% lower in retail parks and 4.7% lower in shopping centres.
Diane Wehrle, of Springboard, said: “The context over the past two years is critical here, as the significant drop in footfall in April last year means that Scotland’s footfall is still at a lower level than in April 2017. The superb weather over Easter clearly delivered a boost to coastal towns and historic cities across the UK which are magnets for domestic and overseas tourists, both of which saw footfall rise in April.”