Shopping footfall in the UK hits six-year low

Footfall figures for shopping centres, retail parks and shopping centres all fell last month, as retail experts warn that consumers are ‘thinking twice’ before heading out to the shops.

Figures released by the British Retail Consortium show footfall declined by 3.5% in May, compared to the same point last year when it declined by 0.4%.

The chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, Helen Dickinson said the UK is experiencing ‘the worst footfall figures in six years’, with declines in every region.

High street footfall declined by 4.8% in May, following from the increase of 0.5% in the same month last year. The three-month average decline is 0.8%.

Retail park footfall decreased by 0.8%, following from May 2018 when footfall increased by 0.6%. The three-month average growth is 1.0%.

And shopping centre footfall declined by 3.6%, following May 2018’s decline of 2.9%. This was steeper than the three-month average decline of 2.1%.

The figures also reveal that while footfall worsened across all parts of the day, the most significant drop occurred post 5pm, moving from a rise of +1.9% in May last year to a decline of -4.5% this year.

‘The colder weather, as well as ongoing political and economic uncertainty, made many consumers think twice before heading out to the shops this May,’ said Ms Dickinson.

“While consumers stayed away from the shops this May, retailers still had to pay the full cost of business rates, which are levied regardless of whether a store makes a penny at the till.

‘These rising costs are making many retailers rethink investment decisions, as well as contributing to store closures up and down the country. The government must act to reform this anachronistic tax system or it will be the consumers who suffer the shuttered windows at their local shopping locations.’

Commenting on the new figures, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: ‘It would also be unfair to lay the blame for any decline in footfall post-5pm with hospitality, evening or late-night operators.

‘Arguably, it could be that customers are being turned off by lacklustre retail offerings and so are burned out earlier in the day. High street businesses are symbiotic and you need a vibrant retail sector to encourage people out onto high streets throughout the day and into the evening. There may also be a move towards neighbourhood or off-high street eating and drinking out; waiting until one is closer to home before eating out or grabbing a drink.’


Photo by Cocoparisienne (pixabay)

Jamie Hailstone
Senior reporter - NewStart


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