Summer slump adds to high street woes

Retail footfall declined again in June according to the latest data from the British Retail Consortium.

The report shows that footfall declined by 2.9% in June, compared to the same point last year when it declined by 0.9%.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief-Executive | British Retail Consortium says: “Poor footfall this June led to a significant fall in the sales figures for the month. High streets were worst hit by the relatively poor June weather, with shopping centres also performing badly, however, retail parks managed to buck the trend. Last year’s World Cup and glorious sunshine set a high bar, which 2019’s slow consumer spending and Brexit uncertainty failed to live up to.”

“High streets and shopping centres across the country need to invest in improving their consumer experience if they wish to see these footfall numbers reverse. Unfortunately, high business rates, as well as a raft of other public policy costs, mean there is little left over to spend on these improvements. If the Government wants to see more investment on the high street then they must reform the broken business rates system and give firms the means to make the necessary improvements.”

Diane Wehrle, Springboard Marketing and Insights Director adds: “The drop in footfall in June of -2.9% is disappointing; it was much more severe than the -0.9% drop in June last year and takes the rolling three month average to -2.4% versus -1.5% in 2018.  However, given the exceptional and ongoing disruptive political and economic period we are facing coupled with unprecedented structural changes in the retail sector, we might actually expect consumer activity to have taken an even greater hit.  In reality, the drop in footfall of -1.4% for the year to date is still an improvement on the drop of -2.1% over the same period last year, so in context footfall performance has shown more resilience over the year to date than expected.

“It was clearly high streets and shopping centres that bore the brunt of consumers railing back on their shopping trips, whilst retail parks maintained their customer base.  However, whilst footfall in high streets across the UK dropped by -4.5% in June, the continuing and growing demand from consumers for experience meant that in regional cities – which by virtue of the sheer breadth and depth of their offer means they can deliver on experience – footfall was far more resilient, declining only very marginally by -0.6%.

“And the same rule of “experience delivering results” also applies for shopping centres.  Whilst footfall in shopping centres across the UK declined by -2.4% in June, in the largest centres of more than half a million sq ft the drop was just -0.5%, and only -0.1% in those largest centres with a strong dining offer.  So it is clear that consumer demand is polarised between convenience and accessibility provided so effectively by retail parks, and consumers’ craving for experience, driving them towards larger retail destinations.”