FOOTFALL in Scotland’s shops has had the lowest rate of growth in the UK when compared with pre-pandemic levels, statistics show.

Scottish Retail Consortium and Sensormatics data found that retail is struggling to recover from the lulls of the Covid pandemic.

Footfall across the UK has worsened from pre-pandemic levels, with the average UK decline being 12.5% since 2019.

Figures from May this year show that footfall in Scotland decreased by an additional 3.9% (16.4% total) compared with 2019 levels.

Shopping centre footfall has shown signs of improvement though, with a 19.7% decline noted in May, compared with 2019 – an increase on the 20% decline in April.

David Lonsdale, director at the Scottish Retail Consortium, said that on top of the pandemic’s impact on retail, ScotRail cancellations and the cost-of-living crisis are likely to be responsible for the lack of shoppers.

He said: “Scotland’s fitful footfall slipped back in May compared to the same period prior to the pandemic.

“This left Scotland languishing at the bottom of the UK league table.

“The figures weakened at the end of the month, perhaps derailed by the train drivers’ dispute.”

Glasgow, however, demonstrated its ability to bounce back from the pandemic, with footfall in May only decreasing by 11.6% compared with pre-pandemic levels, remaining unchanged from April.

That puts the city fourth overall in the UK, with Leeds ranking bottom with a 19% decline and only Manchester, Liverpool and Nottingham all outranking Scotland’s largest city.

Lonsdale added: “The performance wasn’t uniform across all retail destinations. Visits to shopping centres improved slightly and for a fourth consecutive month, whilst in Glasgow it remained on par with the month before which was the joint best performance this calendar year.

“Hopefully, this dip in foot-traffic will prove temporary although concerns over the rising cost of living and continued absence of some commuters remain.”

Andy Sumpter, retail consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, said: “With households already starting to feel the pinch of the rising cost of living, retailers are already seeing the impact it can have on footfall recovery.”