The number of shoppers who hit the streets of Scotland in March rose by 1.7% compared to a year ago and is up 1.2% on February.

This is the best performance since September last year and significantly above the UK average of 0.2% — an improvement over a 0.5% fall in February.

High Streets were the only location to report a decline, falling 1.4%.

Footfall in out-of-town locations fared the best with a 3.8% increase year-on-year while shopping centres reported a 0.4% rise.

Five regions and countries reported footfall above the UK average, with Scotland, the east and south west of England reporting the greatest increases

David Lonsdale, Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “These are heartening figures and record a second successive monthly expansion in footfall growth across Scotland’s shopping destinations.

“This is the best performance since September and means footfall in Scotland has risen in ten of the past twelve months, comparing favourably with other parts of the UK.

“Retailers are clearly working hard to attract custom through improved service, pricing and promotions but whether this - coupled with encouraging news of late on rising employment and wages - translates into a greater propensity to spend in shops or online remains to be seen.

“We should have a better understanding when our retail sales data is released next week.

“The outcome of the UK General Election is only three weeks away and the retail industry in Scotland is looking to the next government to deliver a convincing plan to boost business and consumer confidence.”

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard, said: The 1.7 per cent increase in footfall in Scotland’s retail destinations in March compares favourably to the 0.2 per cent increase across the UK.

“However, the polarisation of shopper activity was far more pronounced in Scotland with footfall in out-of-town locations increasing by 12.7 per cent compared with 3.8 per cent in retail parks across the UK, but with decreases in footfall in both high streets and shopping centres.”

A number of factors came into play to bring about this uplift in retail parks which included the Easter weekend two weeks earlier than last year.

This meant that the two key trading days of Good Friday and Easter Saturday fell in the March trading period rather than in April.

The ongoing and apparently accelerating attractiveness of retail parks to shoppers is a result of a number of changes in their format as many become more leisure oriented.

They are also popular with click and collect customers who have made online transactions.

Five regions and countries reported footfall above the UK average, with the East (3.4%), Scotland (1.7%) and the South West (1.4%) reporting the greatest increases, all of which were an improvement on February’s footfall rates.

Three regions reported a worsening picture in March compared with February.

After three consecutive months of footfall growth the south east reports a 3.6 percentage point drop in shoppers numbers, falling to -0.7.%.

The West Midlands remained well below the UK average, reporting its fourth straight month of declining footfall, while the East Midlands saw its footfall rate slow to 0.6%.

Scotland and Northern Ireland reported their second consecutive month of positive footfall growth, up 1.7% and 1.2% respectively.

Footfall in Wales showed a further improvement from its recent low of -4.6% in January, rising to -1.7% in March.


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