SHOPPER footfall in Scotland plunged by 39.7 per cent in November, compared with the same month last year, as coronavirus restrictions and concerns over the economy took their toll, a report from the Scottish Retail Consortium has found.

Weekly footfall has steadily declined over the last four weeks, with a sharp drop in the final week of the month after eleven local authorities moved into local lockdowns.

The report’s authors painted a dire picture while one analyst said annual sales did little to boost retail.

David Lonsdale, SRC director, Scottish Retail Consortium, said the Glasgow footfall was “paltry”. “Shopper footfall in Scotland plunged last month as Covid restrictions and concerns over the economy exerted their toll. Visits to retail destinations were down by two-fifths on the comparable period last year, the weakest monthly performance since July,” he said.

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“Our largest city and retail destination, Glasgow, fared even worse, with shopper numbers at a paltry half the level of last year.”

He said the decline affected “all retail destinations and became more pronounced as the month wore on, as the government’s footfall-crushing local lockdowns came into effect”. “This shuttered shops in many parts of Scotland for a second time this year. Those stores forcibly closed have lost out on the best part of £3 billion of revenues so far this year, after what has truly been an annus horribilis for retail.

“With local lockdowns set to end and shops in these areas permitted to reopen from December 11, policy makers need to think more creatively about how they can reignite consumer confidence and entice people back to shopping. This could be through free parking or a retail voucher scheme like Northern Ireland is implementing to help stores and high streets through the leaner winter months in the early part of the new year.”

Andy Sumpter, retail consultant, EMEA ShopperTrak, said “not even the advent of Black Friday could bring some much needed sparkle to the high street”.

“With much of the country still under varying restrictions, shoppers stayed away, just at the time retailers need to capitalise on the beginning of the Christmas trading period. Re-instilling consumer confidence in the safety of stores is key to ensuring shoppers continue to visit bricks-and-mortar retail settings,” he said.