Summer slump for UK footfall

Footfall declined by 2.9 per cent in June, compared to a 0.9 per cent fall at the same point last year, according to the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard numbers.

High Street footfall declined by 4.5 per cent, following from the increase of 0.1 per cent in June last year. Retail park footfall increased by 0.1 per cent, compared to a 0.4 per cent drop last June. Shopping centre footfall declined by 2.4 per cent, compared to a 3.4 fall last year.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson explained that High streets were worst hit by the relatively poor June weather, with shopping centres also performing badly.

“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,” she suggested. “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.”

Diane Wehrle, Springboard’s marketing and insights director, said that given the ongoing disruptive political and economic period, coupled with unprecedented structural changes in the retail sector, she actually expected consumer activity to have taken an even greater hit.

“In reality, the drop in footfall of 1.4 per cent for the year to date is still an improvement on the drop of 2.1 per cent 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,” she continued.

“However, whilst footfall in high streets across the UK dropped by 4.5 per cent in June, the continuing and growing demand from consumers for experience meant that in regional cities - which by virtue of the sheer breadth and depth of their offer means they can deliver on experience - footfall was far more resilient, declining only very marginally by 0.6 per cent.”

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