Shopper footfall has “crashed”, falling just under 70% in a year, an industry body has found.
Mainland Scotland and some island areas re-entered lockdown in January, with a legally enforceable stay at home order, to help fight the spread of coronavirus.
Scottish Retail Consortium (SCR) and Sensormatic IQ data indicates shoppers “rightly heeded” the regulations, with visitors to stores across the country dropping 69.2% in February compared to the same month of 2020.
However, this was an increase of 3.3% from January, while the UK average decline was 73.5% over the year.
In Glasgow, footfall dropped by 71.6% year-on-year, but that was an improvement of 3.9% from January.
David Lonsdale, SRC director, said: “Unsurprisingly footfall in Scotland and across all shopping destinations crashed last month against the comparable pre-pandemic trading period of February last year, as shoppers rightly heeded Government instructions to stay at home.
“The decline was in line with that witnessed in January.
“It was the fifth worst monthly footfall data from the past year with visits to retail destinations down 70%.
“Retailers are readying themselves to reopen safely when permitted to do so, with a provisional date set for next month.
“The Government’s prioritisation of retail as the likely first part of the economy to reopen is a welcome vote of confidence in its ability to do so safely and to help kick-start domestic consumption and the economy.
“Shops and retail jobs ultimately depend on the patronage of the public, and so hopefully further detail on the possible timetable and sequencing for reopening the rest of the economy will be forthcoming shortly, especially the safe return of tourists, students and office workers to our larger towns and city centres.
“Emerging from lockdown will itself not be a panacea for retail, which is why Scottish ministers should stand ready to act to stimulate consumer spending and transactions, perhaps through a high street stimulus scheme as is planned for Northern Ireland.”
Andy Sumpter, retail consultant for Sensormatic Solutions, said: “While there is light at the end of tunnel, the outlook between now and when non-essential retail can reopen remains bleak.
“Many retailers will be holding out hope that, once again, consumers will return when they reopen and that pent-up demand for real life retail experiences will sustain the high street’s recovery.”
Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “The retail sector has been hit hard by the pandemic and we will continue to do all we can to support it.
“We have provided more than £3 billion in support for businesses during this pandemic and have also extended retail, hospitality, leisure and aviation rates relief for all of 2021-22.
“We also recognise the way people shop is changing, and are working with the sector to develop a retail strategy.
“Development of the strategy will be guided by a steering group made up of representatives from trade organisations, business, academia, public sector and trade unions.”
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