Retailers struggle with footfall in August
Retail footfall dropped in August across the UK, with shopper numbers 5.4% lower than in July and 0.9% down on August 2014.
The figures released by Ipsos Retail Performance on the number of shoppers entering non-food stores show that London shops were hit hard by the effects of the tube strikes. Footfall in the capital and suburbs was down 9.5% year-on-year in the first week of the month.
Ipsos also attributed the fall to more people heading abroad on holiday and a plateauing number of summer tourists visiting the UK.
“The drop in footfall came as a surprise to us, especially following such a busy July,” said Dr Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance.
"July brought with it the strongest year-on-year rise in any month for 11 years. A dip during August is always expected, with many people away on summer holiday, but not to the extent that we saw this month.
“The drop in numbers is in no way a reflection of the public’s economic mood and wellbeing. All such data shows that the consumer economy continues to march forward with confidence. During August it may have even improved, with volatility in the financial markets pushing back an expected interest rate rise until 2016.”
Footfall across London and the South East was the weakest amongst the regions, with a fall of 7.6% on the previous month. Retailers in the South West of England and Wales enjoyed the tail of their summer holiday boost and, as a result, saw the smallest month-on-month contraction of 1%.
Denison added: “I don’t believe that this month’s disappointing figures mean that retailing is returning to a state of volatility. The causes seem to be more isolated events, culminating to impact on shoppers’ physical trips to the store.
“We view August’s footfall decline simply as a blip, and something that should not be repeated in September. Regular pay growth continues to improve and the housing market is regaining its vigour.”
Ipsos Retail Performance is forecasting that footfall growth in the third quarter of 2015 will stand at 1.1% year-on-year, in excess of the 0.1% figure achieved in the second quarter.
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