Retailers Hope Budget Will Provide Boost

Retailers are hoping the recent UK Budget will lead to increased consumer confidence following the worst footfall performance in five months, the Scottish Retail Consortium said.

Footfall numbers in June were 2.4% lower than a year ago, down on the 1.8% fall in May 2015.

This is the worst performance since January 2015 and is significantly below the three-month average rate of -1.1%, SRC said.

All regions and nations of the UK saw a decline in footfall in June, however five of the seven regions reported footfall above the UK average.

Northern Ireland and Wales reported notable declines in footfall, down 3.5% and 3.0% respectively.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: "Shopper footfall tumbled once again in Scotland last month, for a second successive period and at a quicker pace than experienced in May.

"Whilst these results are undoubtedly sluggish, it has to be borne in mind that this is only the third month in the past year where footfall growth wasn't in positive territory.

"Until the June data for Scottish retail sales is published later this week we won't know if this decrease in footfall has had any measurable impact on actual sales.

"Retailers will however be hoping that the Chancellor of the Exchequer's twiddling of the fiscal dials in the Budget earlier this month will help lift consumer spirits and generate greater levels of confidence and propensity to spend going forward.''

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard, said: "The 2.4% drop in footfall is an acceleration of the decline of 1.8% in May.

"The majority of this acceleration was derived from a worsening of shopping centre performance, with greater drops in footfall in every month since January, from just -1% in January to -6% in June.

"This, together with the drop in footfall in Scotland's high streets, is undoubtedly a function of the continuing dilution of shopper numbers through online trading.

"At the same time, however, the rise in footfall of 2.5% in Scotland's retail parks in June - the 15th successive month in which footfall has increased - is clear evidence that it is still possible to drive up the volume of customers to bricks and mortar stores, albeit in part this is a function of owner-driven improvements in their quality and offer.

"Due to the multiplicity of ownerships and interests, it is not possible for high streets to easily benefit from wholesale owner-driven change, although this is something that shopping centres should be more able to capitalise on.

"Inevitably, however, this type of change is a longer term goal, and so in the short term retailers need to compare and contrast locations in terms of footfall to understand which ones are withstanding the growing structural changes in the retail sector and so represent the best opportunities for growth and expansion.''

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