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Spending remains low despite signs of economic recovery

Scottish consumer confidence is still in the doldrums despite the economic shoots of recovery elsewhere, retailers have warned.

The Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) issued the warning yesterday as the number of shoppers hitting high streets fell 2.1% year on year, with unemployment also on the rise.

SRC head of policy David Martin said: "We are still to see how much, if any, of the economic recovery translates into higher levels of confidence or propensity to spend in Scotland.

"With Scottish sales figures out next week, retailers will be hoping that improved levels of footfall in March have translated into more transactions and that this momentum can be maintained."

He added: "We have seen ­encouraging signs of improvement in shopper numbers in March."

The SRC and Springboard footfall monitor recorded an overall rise in the number of UK shoppers. Meanwhile, UK shopper numbers increased by an average of 1.8% in March, with consumers favouring out-of-town stores.

A spokesman for intu Braehead, near Glasgow, said: "To attract footfall and have shoppers make repeated return trips, as they do to intu Braehead, it's important to give them more than just a place where they can buy things.

"Many people now treat going out shopping as a day out to do things other than visit stores."

The Federation of Small Business in Scotland said it was still optimistic despite significant challenges facing retailers.

The Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition has insisted Britain is ­working again after figures showed average pay is now outstripping inflation for the first time in four years, employment is up and unemployment down across the UK.

The number of jobless people in ­Scotland jumped by 3000 to 179,000 in the last quarter, and Scottish GDP grew at just 0.2% in the final three months of 2013, well behind the UK rate of 0.7%.

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