February footfall slumps to five-year low


February footfall slumps to five-year low

retail newsMarch 11, 2019by Huw Hughes

The number of UK shoppers visiting high streets, retail parks and shopping centres fell by 2.0 percent in February, a significant drop compared to last year’s 0.2 percent drop, marking the fifteenth month of consecutive decline.

According to the latest data from retail intelligence specialist Springboard, street footfall declined by 1.9 percent, marking seven consecutive months of weakening for this shopping location - a deeper decline relative to the previous year when footfall fell by 1.2 percent.

Retail parks footfall was down by 0.8 percent, a sharp decline on last year when it grew by 1.4 percent. The East Midlands and Wales marked notable growth in this sector of 3.0 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.

Shopping Centre footfall declined by 3.4 percent, a deeper decline than last year’s drop of 0.9 percent. No region experienced growth in this shopping location in February.

Commenting on the results in a statement, Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director said: “The -2 percent drop in footfall in February - a significant worsening from -0.5 percent in February 2018 – occurred despite the fact that February this year was the hottest on record.

“However, the record temperatures only occurred in the final week of the month when footfall rose by +2.5 percent compared with drops in each of the preceding three weeks, averaging -3.6 percent.

“Indeed, the balmy conditions certainly helped high streets where footfall rose by +4.5 percent in the last week of the month compared with an average drop of - 4.1 percent in the preceding three weeks.”

Helen Dickinson, chief-executive at the British Retail Consortium, added: “Consumers have been cautious in their spending, leading to the biggest drop in February footfall for five years. These figures echo the month’s poor Retail Sales figures, which saw weak growth, particularly in bricks-and-mortar stores.

“While real incomes have been rising over the last year, the uncertainty surrounding Brexit appears to be driving a needs-not-wants approach top shopping.

“Things could get a lot worse unless the Government is able to avoid a calamitous no deal Brexit. Such a scenario would likely result in higher costs, higher prices and less choice for consumers – all of which would further harm struggling retailers.

“The Government must act to protect both consumers and retailers by ensuring there is no chance of a no deal Brexit.”