Overall retail footfall in August suffered the biggest drop since March, according to the BRC’s springboard footfall monitor.
Footfall across the UK was down 0.9% on last year – compared with the 0.8% rise seen in July. All regions of the UK saw a drop in footfall, with the exception of the North and Yorkshire, which saw a marginal 0.1% increase. Shopping centres saw the biggest fall – of 2.2% – while high streets saw a 0.6% decline and out of town locations remained flat.
“A slight fall in shopper numbers is disappointing after several months of positive results, but there are a few factors at play,” said BRC director general Helen Dickinson. “We’re comparing against August 2012, when an Olympic influx in some areas pushed up the UK average, and it’s also possible that more of us took our holidays after electing to stay put for last year’s summer of sport.”
“We’re comparing against August 2012, when an Olympic influx in some areas pushed up the UK average”
Dickinson added the figures should be taken in the wider context of slightly ‘rosier’ economic news and a ‘good run’ of sales growth: “A small dip in one month shouldn’t take the shine off the tentative signs of improving consumer confidence hinted at in recent times. And retailers are working hard to read these conditions so that they can continue to deliver for their customers.”
Diane Wehrle, retail insights director at Springboard, said that while the decline was “somewhat surprising” given the good weather, footfall has remained stable over the quarter when compared with the previous quarter, which dropped by 1.9%.
“Shopping centres fared less well than high streets and retail parks in August, with a 2.2% drop in footfall, a continuation of the trend over the quarter,” Wehrle said. “Despite the challenges they face, high streets recorded an increase in footfall of 1.1% over the quarter whilst in shopping centres footfall fell by 2.5%.”
“Given the increase in sales in August, the lack of uplift in footfall indicates that the number of customers visiting our retail locations is remaining steady in overall terms but they are spending more. The footfall performance of retail parks clearly reflects the fact that home products were the best performers in sales terms in August, which may well have deflected footfall away from high streets and shopping centres.”
The BRC footfall monitor gathers data on customer activity in town and city centres, and out of town shopping locations throughout the UK.