Footfall fell in May by 0.4 per cent when compared to the same month in 2017. However, high street shops saw a significant improvement on March and April figures, which recorded declines of 6.0 per cent and 3.3 per cent respectively.
According to research published by Springboard and the British Retail Consortium, whilst footfall was down last month, due to improved weather and following a poor comparable from last year, in-store sales recorded growth for the first time in two years.
High Streets saw growth of 0.6 per cent and Retail Parks saw growth of 0.5 per cent. Shopping Centres did however continue to see significant year on year declines, posting a fall of 2.9 per cent in May.
North & Yorkshire (0.7 per cent), Northern Ireland (0.5 per cent) and Wales (0.6 per cent) were the only three regions to see footfall increase in May, with the biggest decline being recorded in Greater London (1.5 per cent).
Diane Wehrle, Springboard Marketing and Insights Director says: “It would be highly premature to regard the improvement in UK footfall to -0.4 per cent in May from a drop of -3.3 per cent 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.”
Helen Dickinson OBE, British Retail Consortium 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.
“Consumer behaviour is changing and retailers are continuing to adapt their stores to their customers’ requirements by investing in the integration of their online and bricks and mortar businesses, increasingly allowing customers to pick up in stores items purchased online,” Ms Dickinson says.
“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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