Traditional upswing in retail footfall in May fails to materialise, Ipsos shows

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Retail footfall did not live up to expectations in May, with the usual seasonal build up of traffic failing to materialise.

UK shopper numbers were -4.2% lower than May 2016, despite a busy May Bank holiday week in which footfall was just -0.8% lower than last year, according to the latest Retail Traffic Index (RTI) figures released today.

Rising food costs and increasing utility bills have left households with both less disposable income and a reduced desire to spend on non-essentials.

Ipsos Retail Performance compiles the RTI, which is published monthly and derived from the number of individual shoppers entering over 4,000 non-food retail stores across the UK.

“May is the month in which we usually see weekly footfall progressively rising, as the weather improves and shopping becomes a more frequent pastime. The upswing didn’t happen this year, that’s not to say it won’t, but it’s certainly late,” commented Dr Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance.

“At a time when we find ourselves in political and economic no man’s land, it’s wholly understandable why shoppers are exercising more caution when it comes to spending disposable income. With four in ten shops managing at present to convert more browsers into spenders this year over last, it’s apparent that consumers are being more discerning and selective with what they buy.”

Footfall fell in every region of the country when compared to both last year and last month, with South West England & Wales suffering from the biggest year-on-year drop at -8.9%. In comparison to April, Scotland & Northern Ireland witnessed the biggest drop at -10.6%.

Dr Denison continued: “Footfall may have stuttered, but the fact that is hasn’t fallen off a cliff means shoppers are not in a state of severe retrenchment – rather a slight throttling back. We expect the same degree of softening to carry into June whilst price deflation, and economic uncertainty continue.