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Footfall Returns to High Street & Out of Town Stores

Retail park with B&Q

The latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) – Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor has reported that during May retail parks and high streets saw footfall growth of 0.5% and 0.6%, respectively, however, shopping centres “continued to see significant year-on-year declines” with a 2.9% drop.

Overall, footfall fell in May by 0.4% compared with the same period last year, which the BRC called a “marked improvement” over March and April’s declines of 6% and 3.3%, respectively.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium: 

"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. 

"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."

Diane Wehrle, Marketing and Insights Director, Springboard: 

"It would be highly premature to regard the improvement in UK footfall to -0.4% in May from a drop of -3.3% 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. 

"The greater truth is that with footfall post 5pm continuing to outperform activity during retail trading hours the overriding characteristic of customer behaviour is firmly one of "experience over product”.  In May footfall between 9am and 5pm declined by -1.2% whilst rising by +2% post 5pm; and the variance between the two parts of the day is most significant in shopping centres where day time footfall dropped by -3.6% compared with a rise of +0.4% post 5pm.  And although the post 5pm period is still less significant in terms of the volume of activity, the ongoing drop in day time footfall means that the number of customers visiting bricks and mortar stores will continue to diminish, leaving the onus on retailers to better exploit a reduced store customer base in order to drive sales growth."

Source: Insight DIY Team & BRC Springboard Monitor

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12 June 2018

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