High-street footfall figures worst in 12 months

Footfall saw the first decline in May since February, new figures have shown.

According to the BRC-Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor, footfall fell by one per cent in May in the UK compared with the same month last year.

High-street shopper numbers declined by two per cent in May, which was the steepest decline since June last year. Shopping centres didn’t fare quite so badly, with a fall of 1.3 per cent.

Retail parks, on the other hand, saw an increase in shoppers on the ground, growing by 1.5 per cent in May.

British Retail Consortium (BRC) chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “After the Easter boost in shopper numbers to retail destinations, footfall fell in May, which was mirrored in the month’s sales performance. But it wasn’t just shops that suffered. Poor weather at the beginning of the month kept people indoors and made it a poor month for footfall in general, with fewer people out and about.

“The biggest movement was noticeable in the number of visitors to the high street, which after several months of growth, saw the steepest decline since June last year. In an uncertain economic climate, retailers will be looking to the next Government to deliver on their commitment to fundamental reform of business rates; to implement a more sustainable system that allows for growth and investment.”

Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director, added: “May was clearly a month of moderation for UK shoppers, with a one per cent drop in footfall across all destinations, and a two per cent drop in the high street. The slowing of growth in footfall post 5pm to +1.1 per cent in May from +3.5 per cent in May 2016 reflects this moderation, suggesting fewer shoppers opted to stay longer and eat out after their shopping trips – a concern for retail locations that have focused on expanding their food offer to grow shopper dwell time.

“The drop in footfall was mirrored by a drop of 3.7 per cent in UK sales as measured by Springboard’s sales index, which tracks sales in bricks-and-mortar stores. These are clear signals that consumers have started to display greater spending restraint.

“While May’s footfall decline didn’t show a dramatic drop overall, the result for high streets was the worst result since June 2016, when high-street footfall declined by 3.7 per cent in the wake of the EU referendum. However, April’s results were boosted by the shift in Easter from March in 2016 to April this year, so it is unsurprising that there was a downward shift in footfall from last month.”