Sharpest decline in footfall for almost three years

Shoppers

Shopper footfall in Scotland’s town centres plunged to its lowest level in almost three years last month, as consumers took advantage of online promotions during the week surrounding ‘Black Friday’.

November recorded the worst footfall performance since January 2013, with numbers 4.2% lower than a year ago, significantly down on the 0.6% fall recorded in October. That’s according to the latest SRC/Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor.

Nationally, footfall in November was 2.1% lower than a year ago, significantly below the 0.2% decline in October and worse the three-month average of -0.8%.

The impact this plunge in footfall and surge in online shopping will have on the total value of sales remains unknown until the November data for Scottish retail sales is published later in the week.

David Lonsdale, Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Retailers will be hoping that the Finance Minister’s twiddling of the fiscal dials in the Scottish Government’s Budget this week will help lift consumer spirits and generate greater levels of confidence and propensity to spend going forward. The retail industry is undergoing profound structural change at a time of weak demand and falling shop prices, and this requires supportive government policies which keep a tight lid on costs such as business rates, other taxes and levies and regulation.”

Footfall has increased annually in Scotland’s retail parks in all but one of the past 26 consecutive months, which Diane Wehrle, Marketing and Insights Director at Springboard, puts down to ease of access.

“There is an evident need for urban shopping destinations to see 2016 as an opportunity to focus on cracking the perennial issue of convenient parking options for shoppers, as most retail parks offer this free of charge. Such changes as improving easy access to town centres could ensure the decline in footfall observed in November, and throughout the year, is mitigated next year.”