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Scottish retailers ask for support from new First Minister after weak April footfall 

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For March and April together, total Scottish footfall decreased by 2.2% year on year with traffic through shopping centres down by 4.7% in April year on year, 3.5 percentage points worse than March.

Early Easter brings hope for Scottish shopper footfall

However, the capital bucked the trend – seeing its footfall increased by 2.3% year on year while Glasgow’s slumped by 5.7%.

SRC director David Lonsdale alluded to a “tricky time for many stores with business rates bills landing firmly on doorsteps”, saying: “Four-and-a-half thousand Scottish shops have just seen an extra £31 million added to their annual rates bills, a cause for concern given the weakness in revenues from shoppers.

“At the same time the regulatory burden facing retailers continues to swell and grocers are facing the threat of a business rate surtax to help plug a gap in the devolved government’s finances.”

Mr Lonsdale said that while visits to Scottish stores fell for a seventh consecutive month in April, the dip was “more pronounced” than in March due to Easter falling early this year, which brought forward foot traffic to shops. “The decline was felt across all retail destinations, albeit Edinburgh still turned in a positive performance,” he noted.

In a plea to the next resident of Bute House, he said: “Hopefully, the next First Minister will prioritise economic growth and bring a more coherent approach to revitalising our high streets and retail destinations.

Change of heart puts Scottish grocers on the back foot

“Central to this should be a plan to ease the regulatory burden, scrap the mooted public health surtax on grocers, and finally deliver on the pledge to restore business rates parity with England for medium-sized and larger commercial premises.

“The lack of rates parity costs Scotland’s retailers £9 million a year, cash which isn’t available for improvements to stores or customer service.”

Sensormatic Solutions’ retail consultant (EMEA) Andy Sumpter pointed to April’s wet weather dampening shoppers’ appetite for spending, adding: “With financial pressures starting to ease for some, and indications of growing consumer confidence being reported, we will have to look forward to May to see if that filters through to improved in-store shopping.”

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