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Shops see footfall decrease by 0.9% in November

Shoppers on Edinburgh’s Princes Street on New Year’s Eve (Jane Barlow/PA)
Shoppers on Edinburgh’s Princes Street on New Year’s Eve (Jane Barlow/PA)

Shops in Scotland have seen “scant sign pre-Christmas trading has taken off” as footfall decreased by 0.9% in November compared with last year, figures show.

The Scottish Retail Consortium said the statistics, which were worse than the UK average decrease of 0.7% year-on-year, were “underwhelming”.

In November, footfall in Edinburgh increased by 5.7% year-on-year, while Glasgow saw a decrease of 4.5%.

However shopping centre footfall increased by 0.2% in November year-on-year, 2.9 percentage points better than October.

November is traditionally the second busiest month of the year in retail, and footfall on Black Friday rose plus 52.4% week-on-week in a UK-wide figure.

SRC-Sensormatic IQ data covering the four weeks from October 29 until November 25 showed overall shopper footfall across Scotland remains a sixth lower than prior to the pandemic.

The Scottish Retail Consortium issued a plea for the Scottish Government to “blunt any uplift in the business rate” during the Budget.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Shopper footfall to Scotland’s retail destinations slipped back slightly in November compared to the same period last year.

“This was the second successive monthly fall in foot-traffic with scant sign pre-Christmas trading has taken off.

“Visits to stores were down by almost 1%, which will disappoint retailers who were hoping for a lift during what is traditionally the second busiest trading month of the year.

“Footfall in shopping centres returned to growth and Edinburgh outperformed. However, overall shopper footfall across Scotland remains a sixth lower than prior to the pandemic.

“These are underwhelming figures, especially for high street retailers operating in more discretionary categories, many of whom will now be hoping for a final flourish to the golden quarter of festive trading to help weather rising costs and to tide them over the traditionally leaner months early in the new year.”

Footfall figures
November is traditionally the second busiest month of the year in retail (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Andy Sumpter, retail consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, said: “November’s footfall rallied, buoyed by Black Friday trading and retailers offering extended discounts to spark early Christmas spend.

“Last month, UK footfall recovered to its highest performance levels since July, however, this recent boost to retailers has been driven by price and promotions-sensitive shopping behaviours.

“Discounting events have proved a major draw, with footfall on Black Friday rising plus 52.4% week-on-week for example. We have also seen that improvements in total retail footfall last month were significantly shored up by outlet store visits.

“Undoubtedly, footfall’s recovery in November will allow retailers to look ahead to Christmas trading with more confidence, but the challenge will be not just encouraging ongoing spend into December when disposable incomes remain squeezed.”

– Total footfall by city

Growth Rank City Nov-23 Oct-23

1 Edinburgh 5.7% 0.5%
2 Leeds 3.1% -9.7%
3 Birmingham 2.5% -7.9%
4 Manchester 0.1% -5.2%
5 Bristol -0.1% -3.2%
6 Cardiff -0.4% -6.5%
6 London -0.4% -2.9%
6 Nottingham -0.4% -6.3%
9 Liverpool -2.4% -3.5%
10 Glasgow -4.5% -8.9%
11 Belfast -7.6% -3.2%