High street footfall has continued to fall, dropping 1.8% in September

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Retail footfall has dropped once more in September as consumer caution ahead of Brexit increased.

Total footfall declined 1.7% year on year in the four weeks to September 28, according to figures published by the BRC-Springboard footfall and vacancies monitor.

This time last year, it had also fallen 1.7% year-on-year.

“Retailers are facing a sustained drop in footfall, with numbers of visitors down over 10% in the last seven years alone,” said BRC CEO Helen Dickinson.

“With Brexit looming, many consumers are holding off from all but essential purchases, and it is no surprise that the 1.7% drop in footfall has also contributed to a similar fall in sales.”

Shopping centres were the most affected locations, with the number of shoppers through their doors falling 3.2% following a 2.5% decline in September 2018.

The beleaguered high street followed, with footfall declining 1.8% from a 2.2% drop last year.

Meanwhile, retail parks bucked the downwards trend, improving footfall by a mere 0.1% following a likewise increase last year, as they continued to “entice shoppers with their varied consumer offering”, Dickinson explained.

She continued: “The ongoing transformation of the retail industry is putting increasing pressure on retailers, which is now compounded by the spectre of a no-deal Brexit on 31 October.

“If the government wants to support consumers and retailers they should make sure they take no-deal off the table, while also addressing the public policy costs, such as business rates, that prevent shops from investing in their retail offering.”

Morning update

Cake Box Holdings (CAKE), the specialist retailer of fresh cream cakes, has posted a half year trading update for the six months ended 30 September 2019.

The group said it has continued to “grow strongly” during the period, both through its existing estate and the addition of new stores and expects to report revenues for the period up 6% to £8.8m.

Within this, like-for-like sales in existing franchise stores grew by 6.9%.

As a result, it said it is “confident” it will meet current market expectations for the year.

Nine new franchise stores were added during the period, bringing the total number of stores to 122. Recent store openings included Dartford, Derby Central and Slough Central. In addition, three new franchise stores are expected to open imminently and post the period end.

It will report its results for the six months ended 30 September 2019 on 25 November 2019.

CEO and co-founder Sukh Chamdal commented: “I am very pleased with our performance over the first half, particularly our ongoing momentum in like-for-like sales at 6.9%. We have continued with our new store roll-out, opening nine in the period. This was slightly lower than the comparative period last year, however we already have a further three stores fitted-out and once the final legal processes are completed will be open for trading and so will be recognised in the second half.

“With a strong pipeline of new stores to meet our opening targets and a number of other developments underway to improve the Cake Box proposition, we remain confident in our prospects for the full year and beyond.”

On the markets this morning, The FTSE 100 has opened the day down 0.6% back to 7,207.7pts taking some of the gloss off Friday’s rise as more doubts about the viability of a Brexit deal emerged over the weekend.

Early risers include Devro (DVO), up 4% to 175.8p, Premier Foods (PFD), up 2% to 30.9p, PayPoint, up 1.7% to 881p and Marston’s (MARS), up 1.2% to 123p.

Fallers include Ocado (OCDO), down 3% to 1,282.9p, SSP Group (SSPG), down 2.1% to 645p, FeverTree (FEVR), down 2.1% to 2,150p and B&M European Value Retail (BME), down 2% to 372.4p.

This week in the City

Company news flow remains relatively quiet in the UK this week, but internationally third quarter reporting season kicks off with a number of global fmcg giants updating the market this week.

UK news continues to be dominated by Brexit talks and the possibility of agreeing a deal with the EU and UK parliament before the October 31 deadline.

The only London Stock Exchange news of note on Tuesday is a pre-close annual trading update from brewer and pubco Marston’s (MARS). Globally, the week kicks off tomorrow with third quarter results from Johnson & Johnson.

A busy Thursday brings third quarter results from fmcg giants Unilever (ULVR) and Nestle (NESN) along with first quarter results from Pernod Ricard and full year results from WH Smith.

Friday brings third quarter results frm Danone (BN) and Coca-Cola (KO).

In economic news, the monthly Kantar/Nielsen grocery market share figures are out tomorrow morning, while the ONS Retail Sales figures for September will be published on Thursday.