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.”