A sweet spot for Scotland’s high street footfall in  February despite the disruption of Storms Eunice  and Dudley. But is this going to be short-lived? 

“Despite the third week of February being impacted by severe  storms (Dudley and Eunice), footfall across Scotland’s high streets  over the month as a whole was surprisingly robust.  

With a gap of -30.4% from the 2019 level, high street footfall only  weakened marginally from January when it was -28.7% below  2019, supported by a month on month increase of +10.2% which  was the largest single monthly uplift since June 2021 and four  times greater than the increase from September to October,  before the Omicron variant hit.  

Footfall was remarkably stable in each week of the month, even  strengthening slightly in the third week of the month when the  extreme weather occurred, offering a source of optimism for  retailers in what remains a retail landscape that is impacted to  some degree by Covid.  

Some of the stronger performance in February is likely to have  emanated from the drift back of employees to offices, although  this has been a steady trickle rather than a flood, and continues  to suppress footfall in major city centres across the UK. Footfall in  Central London and in cities outside London was -31.9% and -29.8%  below the 2019 level respectively in February, versus -27.3% in  market towns and -20.2% in outer London which have consistently  been more resilient in terms of retaining footfall as people work  from home. 

February appeared to represent a sweet spot in terms of footfall  returning to the high street, with consumers’ confidence riding  high on the back of the removal of Covid restrictions. However,  the concern over the coming months must be the likely impact on  spending of rising household energy prices and fuel costs.” 


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