One-off events such as the Euro 2024 competition and Taylor Swift's record-breaking concerts in Edinburgh bolstered shopper numbers in June, but it is doubtful whether this translated into a significant increase in spending.

Figures released today by the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) show that the country was the best of weak UK bunch for shopper footfall last month with a modest 0.2% uplift. This was matched only by the north-east of England, with all nine of the other UK countries and regions monitored in negative territory.

The best performer across the rest of the pack was Northern Ireland, down 0.6%, with Wales bringing up the rear with a negative reading of 4.1%.

"A welcome combination of concerts, events, and the Euros offset the cool weather to encourage Scots to visit retail destinations," said Ewan MacDonald Russell, deputy head of the SRC.

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“Shopping centres outperformed the national average, with a 1.2% increase. After a difficult run Glasgow saw its first increase in footfall this year with a 2.2% increase, hopefully a sign that a stronger summer performance may be ahead after a difficult first half of 2024.

"Edinburgh narrowly pipped that performance with a 2.4 percent increase, in part from the Royal Highland Show and Taylor Swift’s concerts, continuing a solid series of figures."

The three-night stand of The Eras Tour injected an estimated £77 million into the Edinburgh economy as hundreds of thousands of Swifties flocked to the city. This, together with the Euro 2024 effect, was one of the few points of overlap between the SRC's findings and a separate set of June footfall figures from MRI Software, the owner of retail analytics specialist Springboard.

MRI found that footfall in Scotland was 4% lower in June when compared to the same period a year earlier, despite a monthly increase of 0.7% from May. According to MRI, shopping centres and retail parks led the way with a monthly increase of 3.8% and 1.2% respectively, but high streets suffered a decline of 1.2%.

Jenni Matthews, marketing and insights director at MRI, said June featured a mixture of sport and live music that should have been the "perfect recipe" for a monthly boost in footfall. However, this was tempered by volatile weather and other factors.

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"The 'Taylor Swift Effect’ was not as noticeable in Scotland’s high streets during the second week of the month, as footfall declined marginally by 0.5% from the previous week and a staggering 10.4% year on year," Ms Matthews said. "This could indicate, due to the volume of people descending on Edinburgh, local residents may have avoided travelling into towns and cities within the region."

Despite its more positive readings, the SRC cautioned that the retail sector remains in "parlous condition". 

"With the rain finally giving way to drier and sunnier weather, this along with events including the start of the 2024 Euros and Taylor Swift’s Eras tour helped to deliver an ambient boost to shopper traffic, pushing Scottish footfall to its highest recovery since September 2023," said Andy Sumpter of Sensormatic Solutions, which produces the figures in conjunction with the SRC.

"Retailers will be hoping that major sporting events, including Wimbledon and the Paris Olympics, provide positive opportunities to entice shoppers into store.”

The SRC is due to release its retail spending figures for June next week.