Business

Scottish retail footfall plummets as December is bookended by lockdowns



Year-on-year Scottish footfall fell by 50.2% in December, although this was a 18.9% increase from November.

The latest Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) and ShopperTrak figures noted that this was below the UK average decline of 46.1%.

Year-on-year footfall in Glasgow decreased by 59.8% in December, down 10.8% from November.

The wider UK figures showed that footfall on high streets declined by 49.5% year-on-year, making it the worst performing location type for the fifth consecutive month.

Retail parks saw footfall decrease by 17.3% year-on-year, while shopping centre footfall declined by 47.3% year-on-year.

Scotland saw the shallowest shopping centre footfall decline of all regions, at 43.8%.

The latest statistics cover the five weeks from 29 November 2020 to 2 January 2021, during which weekly footfall steadily rose for the first three weeks, before declining in final two weeks. The final week saw footfall down to levels not seen since last May.

David Lonsdale, director at the SRC, said: “Caught in a pincer movement between widespread local lockdowns at the start of the month and a nation-wide lockdown at the end of December, this was the worst performance since the first national lockdown ended for non-food shops back in June.

“It rounded off an incredibly tough festive trading period and a truly dismal 2020 for much of Scotland’s retail industry, particularly those in more discretionary categories many of whom had been forcibly shuttered for half of the past 10 months.”

He noted that footfall in Glasgow was down by almost three-fifths, making it the fourth month since the onset of the pandemic that the city has seen declines in excess of 50%.

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“Even when stores are eventually permitted to re-emerge from this enforced hibernation, it is likely many will continue to suffer from lower shopper footfall – while a return to trading is crucial, it will not be a panacea for the sector,” Lonsdale added.

Andy Sumpter, EMEA retail consultant at ShopperTrak, said: “December had started promisingly, with shopper counts recovering at the start of the month, boosted by shoppers’ get-ahead gift buying.

“But footfall soon fell away as UK consumers faced the prospect of tougher restrictions – from tighter tiers, to impending lockdowns and smaller shorted Christmases.”



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