Retail footfall in May was 0.2% on a year ago, marginally down on the 0.1% fall in April and below the three-month average of a 0.6% increase, according to the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC)/Springboard monthly monitor.
Footfall on the high street was 0.9% down on the previous year for May, up on April’s fall of 1.4%. Out-of-town reported the only rise – 3.3% higher than a year ago – while footfall in shopping centres was down 1.5% on the previous year.
All regions and counties, with the exception of Greater London (-1.6%) West Midlands (-2.3%), East Midlands (-3.0%) and Wales (-2.6%), reported positive footfall.
BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: “This is the second successive month that footfall has eased back a touch, compared to the same period last year. However, actual retail sales over the period have risen, which points to the continuing impact and popularity of online shopping, particularly in non-food categories. Many retailers are increasingly adept at harnessing the internet and multi-channel innovations to get through to consumers who might not have time to travel to the shops.
“Purchases of bigger ticket items for revamping the home and garden performed well, off the back of the continued pick-up in the housing market, as did sales of televisions ahead of this summer’s sporting spectacles, primarily the World Cup and Commonwealth Games. Out-of-town shopping locations have continued to do well as a result, recording a further strong uptick in footfall.”
Springboard Retail Insights director Diane Wehrle said: “The challenge faced by our retail destinations is continuing, with both a drop in footfall for a second month in a row, and an acceleration in the decline to 0.2% from 0.1% in April. However, the drop is a consequence of high streets and shopping centres losing out to retail parks, which are benefiting from the inevitable lure of home products as house prices continue to rise. Indeed, retail parks have recorded increases in footfall in every month this year, which is levelling out at around 3% from last year.
“However, it also goes without saying that the month was severely hampered by poor trading performance over the two May bank holiday weekends. Despite fair weather at the beginning of the month the May Spring bank holiday weekend ended with a surprising drop in footfall, and heavy rain hit the UK over the Whitsun Bank Holiday weekend – a key trading time as it coincides with the school half term holiday – which had an adverse impact on activity in retail destinations.
“The prevailing cautiousness among consumers means the appeal of the retail park has inevitably had a negative impact on trips to other types of retail destination. Alongside increases in footfall in retail parks in every month this year, footfall has dropped in high streets and shopping centres in four of the five months since January.”