Scotland’s high streets and town centres filled with shoppers as non-essential retailers were allowed to open for the first time, with footfall up by 167 per cent on Monday April 26 compared with the same day last week.
The Scottish Retail Consortium also reported that retail traffic in Scotland was down by 0.7 per cent compared with the same day in 2019, “despite many eateries, pubs and offices etc being closed”. By contrast, when non-essential retail reopened in England and Wales on April 12, footfall was down by 10.8% and 8.7% respectively on the same Monday of 2019.
SRC director David Lonsdale welcomed the strong footfall figures for Scotland, saying: “After 122 days, high street shops finally had something to smile about as customers surged to their stores. Reopening day footfall was significantly higher than in England and Wales, possibly due to the longer and more stringent Scottish lockdown over the past four months. That’s super news for shop owners who have had a long wait to finally reopen their doors to customers.”
Mr Lonsdale emphasised, however, that it was “worth sounding a note of caution”, adding: “Elsewhere we have seen an initial rush of shoppers, but footfall has then fallen back once the initial pent-up demand and need for products subsides. Even Monday’s figures are a touch below what would have been expected pre-crisis – a reminder of how long the road back to growth will be, especially with offices and parts of hospitality still closed.
“It’s great shops are open again and being supported by customers – but it will be some time before the retail industry returns to profitable and sustainable growth.”