Figures Show Yearly Shoppers Rise

There were more shoppers hitting Scotland's high streets and shopping centres in August compared to the same month last year, according to new figures.

Retail experts said the 1.8% rise in shopper numbers was an "an extremely positive result'' as footfall across the UK averaged a 1.1% decline.

The statistics were published as part of the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) and Springboard monitor, which tracks shopper numbers on the high street and out-of-town shopping centres in 142 towns and cities across the UK.

SRC director David Lonsdale said: "This is a further favourable set of results.

"For the second month in a row the number of shoppers visiting Scotland's high streets and shopping centres is above the level witnessed during the same period last year.

"Footfall has risen for four of the last five months, though this doesn't always necessarily translate into increased levels of actual sales.

"While retailers and other firms will be working hard to sustain the rise in visitors to our town centres, government and local authorities can assist.''

Mr Lonsdale said the Scottish Budget should ensure tax rates are competitive and "encourage investment''.

"Councils can encourage more vibrant town centres with an emphasis on affordable and accessible parking, and a building standards system that better facilitates retail refurbishment and expansion,'' he added.

All regions and countries with the exception of south east England, the East Midlands, Northern Ireland and Scotland reported declining footfall, according to the report.

Diane Wehrle, retail insights director at Springboard, said: ''Whilst footfall dropped across the UK by 1.1% in August, the rise of 1.8% in Scotland is an extremely positive result.``

She said out-of-town locations in Scotland led the charge with an increase of 4.1% while high streets and shopping centres saw a rise of 1.1%.

A rise in sales during the month was driven by clothing and footwear purchases, she said.

Ms Wehrle added: "Out-of-town locations offer consumers an increasingly attractive wider leisure-based offer with plentiful free car parking in a safe environment.

"Whilst high streets and shopping centres are working hard to both retain and to win back customers, if they are to prosper over the critical Christmas trading period in the face of strong out-of-town competition, it requires the speedy alleviation of obvious barriers to shoppers such as high parking costs.''

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