Total retail footfall declined by 1.7% in September compared with the same point last year when it declined by 1.7%, according to the latest data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard.
Covering the five weeks from August 25 to September 28, the BRC-Springboard Footfall & Vacancies monitor reports that on a three-month basis, footfall decreased by 1.6%. The six and 12-month averages are -2.0% and -1.7% respectively.
High street footfall declined by 1.8%, following from the decrease of 2.2% in September last year. The three-month average decline is 2.1%.
Retail park footfall increased by 0.1%, following from September 2018 when footfall increased by 0.1%. The three-month average growth is 0.7%.
Shopping centre footfall declined by 3.2%, following September 2018’s decline of 2.5%. The three-month average decline was 2.9%.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “Retailers are facing a sustained drop in footfall, with numbers of visitors down over 10% in the last seven years alone. With Brexit looming, many consumers are holding off from all but essential purchases, and it’s no surprise that the 1.7% drop in footfall has also contributed to a similar fall in sales. High streets and shopping centres were hit hardest with retail parks faring slightly better, as they continue to entice shoppers with their varied consumer offering.
“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 October 31. 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.”
Springboard marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle added: “Whilst the drop in footfall of -1.7% in September was greater than in August, the vast majority of this decline emanated from the last week of the month, when footfall was hit by exceptionally heavy rain. To provide some context, the decline in footfall of -6.1% in that last week of the month was the worst of any week since March/April 2018, when the UK was hit by the ‘Beast from the East’.
“The relatively strong footfall performance in the preceding four weeks, which averaged at -0.7%, had been looking reasonably positive – and had the last week’s rain not hit the month’s performance, it’s likely that footfall for the month would have dropped by less than -1%.
“Given the monumental changes that have occurred in our retail trading landscape over the past decade, it’s unsurprising that the long-term footfall trend is a downward one. However, with 80% of spend remaining in-store, there is still much for bricks and mortar stores to play for in Q4 of 2019, which of course includes the all-important festive trading period.”