Swinney must support the retail sector

Plea to new FM after Scottish footfall sees another drop

John Swinney, set to be made the new First Minister of Scotland, has been urged to support the country’s retail sector following yet another dip in the total footfall figures.

INCOMING First Minister of Scotland John Swinney must take a focus on Scotland’s retail sector and high streets, says the Scottish Retail Consortium.

Having remained unchallenged in his bid to be the new leader of the SNP, John Swinney, former deputy first minister under Nicola Sturgeon, has won and will soon be taking on the position of first minister once sworn into parliament.

Swinney has also confirmed he will be looking to work alongside Kate Forbes MSP, the former finance secretary under Sturgeon, who was also in the running to be the new FM after she failed to win the position in 2023.

However, Swinney takes to his new role during a challenging time for the Scottish retail sector.

According to the latest data from the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) and Sensormatic IQ Data, visits to Scotland’s stores saw yet another decrease for the seventh month in a row.

Covering the four weeks to 27 April, Scottish footfall saw a decrease of 3.6% compared to the previous year.

And while Easter may have buoyed Scotland’s shops last month, the SRC has found that when examining March and April together, total Scottish footfall decreased by 2.2%

As a result, David Lonsdale, director of the SRC, has called on Swinney to “prioritise economic growth” for Scotland and bring a more “coherent approach” to revitalising Scotland’s retail sector.

He said: “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 £9million a year, cash which isn’t available for improvements to stores or customer service.”