Retail footfall down 10% in seven years, BRC-Springboard data shows

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Retail footfall has declined by 10% over the last seven years, the latest figures from the BRC-Springboard show.

Covering the five weeks 25 August – 28 September 2019, the monitor found footfall declined by 1.7% in September, compared to the same point last year when it declined by 1.7%.

On a three-month basis, footfall decreased by 1.6%. The six and 12–month averages are at -2.0% and -1.7% respectively.

High Street footfall declined by 1.8%, following from the decrease of 2.2% in September last year. The three-month average decline is 2.1%.

Retail Park footfall increased by 0.1%, following from September 2018 when footfall increased by 0.1%. The three-month average growth is 0.7%.

Shopping Centre footfall declined by 3.2%, following September 2018’s decline of 2.5%. The three-month average decline was 2.9%.

Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director, said: “Whilst the drop in footfall of -1.7% in September was greater than in August, the vast majority of this decline emanated from the last week of the month when footfall was hit by exceptionally heavy rain.

“To provide some context, the decline in footfall of -6.1% in that last week of the month was the worst of any week since March/April 2018 when the UK was hit by the Beast from the East. The relatively strong footfall performance in the preceding four weeks, which averaged at -0.7%, had been looking reasonably positive and had the last week’s rain not hit the month’s performance, it is likely that footfall for the month would have dropped by less than -1%.

“Stores maintained their Capture Rate in September, demonstrating that in-store customer numbers tracked wider market trends. In fact, it was only in the fashion category where store customer numbers dropped by proportionally more than footfall in destinations.

“Given the monumental changes that have occurred in our retail trading landscape over the past decade, it is unsurprising that the long-term footfall trend is a downward one. However, with 80% of spend remaining in store there is still much for bricks and mortar stores to play for in Q4 of 2019, which of course includes the all-important festive trading period.”

Helen Dickinson, chief executive at the British Retail Consortium, said: “Retailers are facing a sustained drop in footfall, with numbers of visitors down over 10% in the last seven years alone. With Brexit looming, many consumers are holding off from all but essential purchases, and it is no surprise that the 1.7% drop in footfall has also contributed to a similar fall in sales. High streets and shopping centres were hit hardest with retail parks faring slightly better as they continue to entice shoppers with their varied consumer offering.”

“The ongoing transformation of the retail industry is putting increasing pressure on retailers, which is now compounded by the spectre of a no deal Brexit on 31st October. If the Government wants to support consumers and retailers they should make sure they take no deal off the table, while also addressing the public policy costs such as business rates, that prevent shops from investing in their retail offering.”