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Disappointing July for retailers as footfall declines

The decline in footfall on Scotland’s high streets was greater than the UK average (Steve Parsons/PA)
The decline in footfall on Scotland’s high streets was greater than the UK average (Steve Parsons/PA)

Retailers in Scotland had a disappointing July as footfall declined compared to June.

Data from the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) showed footfall was 16.5% down on pre-pandemic levels and 0.7% worse than in June.

The decline was larger than the UK average of 14.2%.

The summer heatwave, rail strikes and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis were all blamed for the weak footfall.

Ewan MacDonald-Russell, head of policy at the SRC, said: “Scottish retail locations continue to struggle to attract customers after recording a third successive month with the weakest retail footfall figures in the UK.

“Footfall across all locations fell to -16.5% compared to pre-pandemic trading – the worst figures since March.

“Edinburgh and Glasgow both outperformed the national average, albeit both cities fell back from June’s performance.

“Footfall in Edinburgh fell back to -13.5%, with Glasgow showing a fall to -13.6%.

Liz Smith comments
Liz Smith said the SNP were ignoring the economy (Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA)

“The fall in Edinburgh is particularly disappointing after a good performance in the previous month. Both Scotland’s largest cities will be hoping August attracts more visitors, especially in Edinburgh as the Festival fully returns.

“Shopping centres continue to struggle, albeit a small improvement over last month’s performance.”

He continued: “As the year progresses, there is little evidence Scottish consumers are close to returning to pre-pandemic shopping patterns.

“That is an intense concern for high street retailers who now face higher costs than three years ago but have fewer customers coming in the door.”

The Conservatives said Scotland’s economic recovery was lagging behind the rest of the UK’s.

Tory MSP Liz Smith said: “This is now the third month in a row that Scotland’s shopper footfall has been lower than the rest of the UK.

“It is clear that we are lagging behind in our economic recovery from the pandemic.

“Scotland’s retail sector was badly hit during the pandemic, bearing the brunt of the SNP’s sluggish Covid support rollout and its dithering and delays over lifting restrictions.

“However, instead of now working to support the industry’s recovery from the pandemic, the SNP has once again taken its eye off the ball to pursue an unwanted and divisive second independence referendum.

“The SNP cannot continue to ignore our economy.

“We need to encourage people back to our high streets and town centres, and make it easier for employees to return to the office by scrapping damaging policies, such as the workplace parking levy.”