Sales and footfall drop in Glasgow city centre amid 'dirty streets' and damning report

Glasgow city centre has seen a huge reduction in visitors amid a row over dirty streets, according to a "damning” report.

Sales have also reportedly slumped by £60 million as retail and fashion have been hit hard by the cost of living crisis. The legacy of the pandemic and home working is also believed to be badly affecting businesses.

A report by Glasgow Chamber of Commerce shows a year-on-year decline in footfall in 2024, with 410,000 fewer visitors in May compared to the same month last year. The report also shows a sales decrease in April of this year of 12.3%, the equivalent of £60m, compared to last year, reports the Record.

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The year-to-year decline is 2.4%, or £237m. According the Chamber of Commerce, Glasgow is performing behind Edinburgh and Manchester.

Of the ten sectors listed, six were in decline compared to April last year. The business "feedback" section of the report mentioned ongoing concerns such as "cleansing, maintenance & hygiene".

Susan Aitken, the SNP council leader in Glasgow, has been accused of failing to deal with cleanliness issues, with one trade union boss describing the city as "filthy".

Labour councillor George Redmond blamed the SNP council: "The recent report showing a huge decline in footfall in the city centre is damning evidence of the SNP's mismanagement. As one of the largest retail cities in the UK, it's clear that Glasgow businesses seeking support have been met with silence.

"This is a critical time for change; we cannot allow the city centre's cleanliness, poor transportation, and vitality to continue to suffer due to neglect.

“The city's infrastructure is crumbling, public transport is unreliable, and the streets are filthy. It's time to address these issues head-on and restore Glasgow to its rightful place as a thriving, well-managed urban centre."

Glasgow Labour MSP Pam-Duncan Glancy said: "The SNP have gutted the city centre, failed on public transport and badly let down the hospitality industry. Glasgow is an incredible place to live and work, because of the people. The SNPs lack of care for it and our people will not be forgotten."

Richard Muir, deputy chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said: "The recovery of Glasgow City Centre should remain a top economic priority for all levels of our Governments.

"The Golden Z report launched last August explained much of what needs to be done to breathe fresh life into the most impacted streets. It is now time that we enact this report.

"We are calling for an accelerated recovery of Glasgow City Centre as a key national asset and economic engine by establishing a New City Deal which would include innovative tax incentives and funding, to leverage the commercial core, our iconic cultural assets and prioritise investment in the Scottish Events Campus."

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: “Like all city and town centres in the UK and beyond, Glasgow city centre faces facing significant challenges brought about by the legacy of the pandemic - most notably the rise in home working – the ongoing impact of the cost-of-living crisis and changing retail patterns.

“It must be said that Glasgow city centre remains the most significant economic area in Scotland, and a highly attractive destination for people both in the city and the greater Glasgow area with an estimated 50 million visitors coming into the area in 2023.

“We are working very closely with our public and private sector partners in the City Centre Task Force to ensure the city centre stays resilient and adapts to the changes it faces.”

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