Scottish retailers saw another drop in shopper footfall last month.
Compiled by the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) and Springboard, Scottish retailers experienced a 4.1% year-on-year drop in shopper numbers in February, much lower than the 2.9% drop for the UK as a whole. In January, Scotland saw a 1.8% year-on-year decline in footfall.
SRC director David Lonsdale attributed the decline to the poor weather during February, especially on Scottish high streets which saw a 7.7% drop during the month.
“February saw a disappointing acceleration of the recent downwards trend in shopper numbers,” he said. “Scottish retailers will be examining this 4.1% drop in footfall carefully, and considering what steps could be taken to attract more people to town centres.”
Meanwhile, Britain’s business premises vacancy rate continued to drop with a 0.5% year-on-year decline in February.
The figures, compiled by the Local Data Company, showed that overall vacancy rates dropped from 12.5% in 2013 to 12% this February. The decline has been driven by shop vacancy rates which reduced from 14.1% in February 2013 to 13.6% last month.
Local Data Company director Matthew Hopkinson attributed the drop in vacancy rates to a rise in incentives from councils to open shops and the changing nature of the high street.
“There has been a significant rise in incentives from councils, central government with business rates and more flexible occupation such as pop up shops, which is helping this take up,” he said. “It does also reflect the structural changes taking place in our town centres where traditional shops are closing and being replaced by food & beverage, services such as nail bars and tattoo parlours as well as significant growth in the convenience sector.”