Footfall drops back in September
Footfall dropped again in September at high streets and shopping centres while growth at retail parts slowed.
Footfall in the five weeks from 27 August to 30 September dropped by 1.2%, according to the British Retail Consortium-Springboard Index. This replicated the decline seen in August.
High street footfall declined by 2.2% in September, a smaller decline than August’s 2.6%. Shopping centres showed a further decline of 1.0%, a slightly bigger decrease than in August which registered a decrease of 0.8%. Retail parks still saw positive growth, but reduced to 1.1% from 1.6% in August.
The East was the only region to see increased growth in September, of 1.9%, and the only region to show high street growth, of 0.4 %. Also, this month is the tenth consecutive month of growth for this region. East Midlands high street footfall saw a decelerated decline of 2.8% compared to last month decline of 4.9%; however, this is the seventh month of consecutive decline.
The deepest decline in footfall in September occurred in Northern Ireland (4.3%) and the South West (2.4%). Greater London decline slowed to 0.9% from 2.0% in August while Scotland recorded its biggest decline, 2%, since June 2016.
‘September’s footfall figures have a sense of unwelcome déjà vu around them. For the third consecutive month, most shopping destinations suffered a decline with retail parks continuing to buck the trend; attracting more visitors than the previous year and the opposite being true for high streets. There’s an urgent need to stall the growing number of retail locations, particularly in more vulnerable parts of the country, falling further and further behind by attracting shoppers to retail destinations with the right mix of products, experience and convenience. But this is where the conundrum lies for retailers: the growing cost of doing business leaves little to no wiggle room for investment in their store proposition,’ said Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium chief executive.
She called on the government to help retailers by abolishing the planned increase in business rates for 2018.
‘The accelerating decline in footfall is a strong indicator of consumers railing back spending. Much is often made about the impact of weather, but with similar weather conditions to September 2016, this cannot be put forward as a driver. Aggressive early season sales indicate retailers are spooked, and they will be on edge with the six-week countdown now on to the start of the festive shopping season,’ said Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director.
‘And the decline in footfall doesn’t just mean reduced spending on retail goods; drops in footfall across all periods of the 24-hour day demonstrate that leisure and hospitality spending is also being curtailed. Indeed, in contrast to last month when the drop in footfall during day time hours was just half that post 5pm, in September the -1.3% drop in footfall between 9am and 5pm was a third greater than the -1% decline post 5pm.
‘Despite the overall decline in footfall, retail parks continue to increase their appeal with a rise of 1.1 per cent; the seventh consecutive month of footfall increase. The appeal of their accessibility and free parking, alongside an increasingly attractive proposition, comes to the fore when household budgets are squeezed through inflationary pressures and minimal wage rise.’