'Optimism' as shopper numbers rise

Image caption Shopper numbers increased in April after a decline in March

Retailers are cautiously optimistic after an increase in shopper numbers in April.

Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) footfall figures show numbers increased by 1% compared to a year ago.

Fiona Moriarty, director of the SRC, said it was "reassuring" to see the increase in shopper numbers after the 3.8% fall recorded in March.

The number of empty shops fell slightly, with one in 10 lying vacant (10%) compared with 10.2% in January.

The 10% vacancy rate in Scotland is lower than in the UK as a whole, at 11.9%, while the rate in Wales is 17.9% and in Northern Ireland 18.1%.

The rise in the number of shoppers is in line with the UK average, although shops in Wales and Northern Ireland recorded declining footfall.

The figures appear in the latest Scottish Retail Consortium/Springboard footfall and vacancies monitor.

Ms Moriarty said: "Scotland didn't see as much sunshine as some areas further south towards the end of April, so it's all the more positive to see that footfall is in line with the UK average in spite of the delayed onset of milder weather," she said.

"While still in double digits, the Scottish vacancy rate has edged down marginally on the previous quarter and is well below the UK average, further strengthening the case for cautious optimism."

Combined with recent sales figures and a rise in consumer confidence, there are "very tentative signs out there that the public mood and spending power is improving", she said.

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