A slow burn for summer retail footfall

Retail footfall fell by 0.9% in June against the previous year, according to figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard.

In the five weeks from May 27 to June 30, high streets saw growth of 0.1% (the second month of consecutive growth since November 2017) while footfall in retail parks and shopping centres declined by -0.4% and 3.4% respectively.

Only four nations/regions saw footfall grow in June: West Midlands (0.8%) the North & Yorkshire (0.5%), Northern Ireland (3.6%) and Wales (0.3%). The biggest decline was seen in East Midlands (-2.7%). Northern Ireland saw the largest increase of 3.6%.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson OBE said: “June’s good weather has again resulted in a marginal year-on-year improvement in footfall across the nation’s high streets, delivering the second month of consecutive growth since November 2017.

“However, retail parks and shopping centres have had an altogether more difficult time – albeit June 2017 was a tough comparable – and the overall trend of fewer visits to bricks-and-mortar stores remains.

“Consumer behaviour has changed, with shoppers now requiring much more choice in terms of how, when and where they shop and retailers are responding to this, investing in their physical store experiences and online presence.

“Initiatives such as the Government’s Great British High Street Awards are increasingly important as communities adapt and thrive during this period of retail transformation.

“However, considerable pressure on retail remains. But policy makers can help by supporting our call for a two-year freeze in business rate increases to provide some headroom while a reform of the business rates system is carried out.”

Springboard marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle added: “The drop in footfall in June – the seventh in as many months – means that we are now in the longest period of continued footfall decline since 2015. However, with drops of less than -1% in both May and June, the three month rolling average is now -1.5%: the most favourable result since November 2017.

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