According to Springboard the UK headline footfall rate took a tumble last week, with a drop in footfall across all UK retail destinations of -1.0 per cent compared with a rise of +1.8 per cent in the same week last year. Unlike many weeks, particularly those at the cusp of the changing seasons such as this, the result cannot be put down to adverse weather discouraging shopping trips. One explanation may be a heightened sense of nervousness amongst shoppers that emanated from a further drop in the value of sterling that was widely reported in the media, in conjunction with rumours of a hard Brexit and likely price rises.
Whether or not this was the direct cause, what occurred was a drop in high street footfall of -1.3 per cent which is a significant downward movement of -3.9 per cent from a rise of +2.6 per cent in the same week last year. And in shopping centres, there was an even greater drop in footfall of -2.8 per cent compared with -0.8 per cent last year. Footfall in retail parks remained in positive territory at +1.8 per cent, however this was also a worsening of performance from +3.3 per cent last year.
Looking around the UK, it is clear why the result is so poor compared with last year. While footfall rose in all but one area of the UK in Week 41 last year, this year footfall declined in every area. The starkest contrast was evident in high streets where footfall declined in all areas apart from the East and North & Yorkshire, compared with a drop in just one area last year (North & Yorkshire).
Moreover, the drops in footfall in high streets were significant, reaching -6.8 per cent in the West Midlands, -4 per cent in the South East and Wales and -8.3 per cent in Northern Ireland. In shopping centres, the South East was the only area in which footfall rose, but dropped by more -4 per cent in four areas including Greater London where footfall declined by -5.5 per cent.