Shop chiefs say SNP ministers must back retail sector as customer numbers sit below pre-pandemic levels

SHOPS chiefs say SNP ministers must back the retail sector as customer numbers are still below pre-pandemic levels.

Despite Covid rules being dropped nearly a year ago, shopper footfall is still a tenth below the 2019 mark.

Empty and derelict shops on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow


Empty and derelict shops on Sauchiehall Street in GlasgowCredit: Les Gallagher

Shopping centers alone have seen a 16 per cent customer drop since before the pandemic.

A surge in customers buying goods online has sparked fears over the future of town centres.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, insisted that higher spending by shoppers will be central to the country’s economic recovery.

There is some evidence that retail visits are slowly recovering but are still very weak.

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Figures covering the five weeks between February 26 this year and April 1 found footfall increased by 12 per cent in March.

And shopping center footfall increased by 37.2 per cent in the same month in Scotland.

Mr. Lonsdale said: “Whilst visits to stores continue to improve, especially in shopping centers, this was the weakest overall rate of footfall growth witnessed since October. Despite the improving picture, shopper footfall remains a tenth below pre-pandemic levels.

“Retailers are playing their part in trying to tempt shoppers, however, Scottish ministers need to continue to support the industry over coming months.

“A good place to start would be delivering on the First Minister’s leadership campaign pledge to accelerate the work of the city centers’ recovery task force.”

This year is set to see hundreds of popular shops disappear from the high street.

Over the last few months, major chains have announced closures, including Paperchase, Iceland and B&M.

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