May is consistently one of the year’s quieter months in the National FootFall Index, with levels typically on a par with January, but 2011 experienced the lowest footfall for May over the past three years, according to Experian.
National footfall levels are showing a month-on-month decrease of -3.9% and a year-on-year fall of -1.3%.
According to Experian, in part this was anticipated given last year retailers were heavily promoting the World Cup event and offering an array of England merchandise to attract footfall to their stores.
Consumer confidence measures continue to support the view consumers are feeling less content, Experian adds.
The latest nationwide consumer confidence survey recorded another drop in index levels, reaching 43, just four points above February’s record low.
The economy slowdown has no doubt deterred the number of shoppers visiting the high street, it said. Petrol prices remain high, which can potentially raise the awareness among shoppers of the discretionary nature of some of their trips.
Although, the Bank of England has decided to hold interest rates at a record low of 0.5% for more than two years, speculation among market forecasters is, by the end of the year, interest rates may rise by 0.25% to 0.75%.
Additional pressures of relatively high inflation rates could further impact consumer’s propensity to spend as they face the reality of their disposable income being eroded, encouraging them to choose more efficient channels to shop and spending wisely, Experian said.
Shoppers know the temptation to impulse buy is so much greater when in store and as more shoppers stay at home, the on-line facility allows the customer to stay in control of purchasing exactly what they need.
With two Bank holidays during the month of May, there tends to be more emphasis on outdoor garden and home products, said researchers. However, the retail park sector has also felt the effects of consumer’s sentiment, as the sector showed a year-on-year decline of -0.4%.
Although the performance of the retail park sector appears flat on last year, the year-on-year drop is disheartening given that in 2010 May reported a decline of -1.1% compared to May 2009 and, prior to 2009, May had always experienced year-on-year growth.
Looking ahead, Experian said June should see uplift in visitor numbers to shopping centres, as typically the month sees an increase in the Retail FootFall Index compared to the month of May.