Retail footfall down 0.4% in May
UK retail footfall edged down 0.4% year-on-year in May, although the decline was a marked improvement over March and April when there were respective drops of 6% and 3.3%.
The figures from the BRC-Springboard Footfall Monitor reveal that retail parks saw growth of 0.5% while high street footfall rose by 0.6%. However, shopping centres continued to see significant year-on-year declines, posting a fall of 2.9% in the month.
Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director, said: “It would be highly premature to regard the improvement in UK footfall to -0.4% in May from a drop of 3.3% in April as any form of bounce back. Instead at least in part it is likely to be a consequence of shopping trips being deferred from April - when the weather continued to be cold and wet - into May.
“It might also be regarded as a reflection of consumer demand resulting from the two May bank holidays which anchored the month at both ends. In reality, however, footfall actually declined in both bank holiday weeks, reflecting a long-term trend identified by Springboard of the lessening in importance of public holidays for retail.”
Only three regions saw footfall grow in May. These included the North and Yorkshire, Northern Ireland and Wales where footfall increased by 0.7%, 0.5% and 0.6% respectively.
The biggest drop in footfall was seen in Greater London where it was down 1.5%.
Meanwhile, footfall post 5pm continued to outperform activity during retail trading hours as people visited restaurants and entertainment venues. Between 9am and 5pm footfall declined by 1.2% but rose by 2% post 5pm.
Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive, said: “May's better weather resulted in a marginal improvement in footfall across the nation's high street and out-of-town shopping areas, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the long-term trend of declining visits to physical stores.
“Policy makers can help to ease the pressure on both retailers and high streets by addressing the burden of business rates and adapting planning laws to support the successful reinvention of empty retail space.”
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