For the third consecutive month, retail footfall levels saw month-on-month growth, according to figures released today by Ipsos Retail Performance.
The Retail Traffic Index (RTI), the national monthly measure of shopping visit numbers to non-food stores, rose by 1.4% from April to May, though they were 4.2% lower than a year ago.
“This is the first time since 2008 that we have recorded monthly footfall growth in the three months of March, April and May,” said Dr Tim Denison, Director of Retail Intelligence at Ipsos Retail Improvement.
The RTI data varies around the country. The strongest month-on-month growth was in London and the south-east, where footfall levels rose by 2.6% in May, closely followed by the south-west and Wales (+2.5%).
Further north, the figures were weaker. In the Midlands there was a 1.5% gain, in Northern England it dwindled to +0.2%, but Scotland and Northern Ireland sat on a 0.7% fall on April’s footfall levels.
“We had expected to see healthier footfall figures at the end of Q1 going into Q2, on the back of a gradual recovery in the economy, and it’s good to see some emerge,” continued Dr Denison.
“However, conditions remain weak and variable. Retailing is very sensitive to disposable household income and this is likely to shrink again in the near future. Inflation is expected to hit 3% in Q2 whilst wage growth is travelling in the opposite direction. So there may well be another bump in the road immediately ahead; it’s certainly too early to talk about a retail revival.
“On the upside, the significant rise in equity prices could help repair confidence and the Help to Buy scheme should stimulate the housing market, which helps drive retail demand. There is a sense that we are now out of the ‘groundhog’ period into something new.”