Summer slump for footfall across UK

Total footfall in the UK declined by 2.9% in June compared with the year-ago period when it declined by 0.9%, according to the latest data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC)–Springboard.

Covering the five weeks from May 26 to June 29, the BRC-Springboard footfall monitor reports that on a three-month basis, footfall decreased by 2.4%. The six- and 12–month averages are -1.3% and -1.7% respectively.

High street footfall dropped by 4.5% following an increase of 0.1% in June last year. The three-month average decline is 3.5%.

Shopping centre footfall slumped by 2.4%, following June 2018’s decline of 3.4%. The three-month average decline is 2.7%.

But retail park footfall rose by 0.1%, against a 0.4% decrease in June 2018. The three-month average growth is 0.5%.

Commenting on the statistics, BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson OBE said: “Poor footfall this June led to a significant fall in the sales figures for the month. High streets were worst hit by the relatively poor June weather, with shopping centres also performing badly. However, retail parks managed to buck the trend. Last year’s World Cup and glorious sunshine set a high bar, which 2019’s slow consumer spending and Brexit uncertainty failed to live up to.

“High streets and shopping centres across the country need to invest in improving their consumer experience if they wish to see these footfall numbers reverse. Unfortunately, high business rates, as well as a raft of other public policy costs, mean there is little left over to spend on these improvements. If the government wants to see more investment on the high street, then it must reform the broken business rates system and give firms the means to make the necessary improvements.”

Springboard marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle added: “The drop in footfall is disappointing. However, given the exceptional and ongoing disruptive political and economic period we are facing – coupled with unprecedented structural changes in the retail sector – we might actually expect consumer activity to have taken an even greater hit.

“In reality, the drop in footfall of -1.4% for the year to date is still an improvement on the drop of -2.1% over the same period last year. So in context, footfall performance has shown more resilience over the year to date than expected.

“It was clearly high streets and shopping centres that bore the brunt of consumers railing back on their shopping trips, whilst retail parks maintained their customer base. However, whilst footfall in high streets dropped by -4.5% in June, the continuing and growing demand from consumers for ‘experience’ meant that footfall in regional cities – which by virtue of the sheer breadth and depth of their offer means they can deliver on ‘experience’ – was far more resilient, declining only very marginally by -0.6%.

“And the same rule of ‘experience delivering results’ applies for shopping centres. Whilst footfall in shopping centres across the UK declined by -2.4% in June, in the largest centres (of more than half a million sq ft) the drop was just -0.5% – and only -0.1% in those largest centres with a strong dining offer.

“It’s clear that consumer demand is polarised between convenience and accessibility [which is] provided so effectively by retail parks, and craving for experience [which is] driving them towards larger retail destinations.”

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