Retail footfall drops 'more than expected' in August

by Huw Hughes
5 Sep 2019

Retail footfall in the UK dropped more than expected in August, falling -9.8 percent against August 2018 after a promising recovery in recent months.

According to Ipsos Retail Performance’s Retail Traffic Index, the deficit was the worst since last July 2018.

Against July, average weekly footfall in the month was down 5.4 percent.

London and the South East saw the most dramatic figures, with August’s numbers were down by 18.1 percent on last year and down 9.1 percent on the previous month.

Expectations that the first week of the month would represent the summer peak failed to materialise.

Instead, footfall peaked over the week commencing 30 June, which was well in advance of the start of the school holidays. This is the first time that this has happened since the Retail Traffic Index was launched in 2000.

Commenting on the figures in a statement, Dr. Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance said: “Just when we were believing that store footfall was on the mend, we unexpectedly hit a wash-out month. It was truly a mensis horribilis. August, as a month, didn’t exist in the Roman 10-month calendar, and you would be forgiven for thinking it took absence from the retail calendar this year.

“Drab weather for much of the month, and a mini-heat wave at its end, wouldn’t have helped. Soft footfall figures are often attributable to the weather, but the extent of the fall suggests there is more to it than just the weather. The low regional figures suggest that London is becoming increasing like Paris; en vacances for long spells of the month.

“Sales data isn’t so sensitive to unseasonal weather, so I don’t expect August’s ‘Back to School’ campaign results to be so dramatic. That said, it is highly improbable that the month will register as a healthy one for the retail sector. All eyes now turn to the business end of the year, starting with September – which is always an important month of the year.”

Photo credit: Pexels, Artem Bali