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Footfall drops again, but rate of decline slows

ShoppingcentreNon-food retail footfall fell again in October, but the rate of decline was lower than September.

Footfall fell by 6.2% compared with 2018. However, this was an improvement on the previous two months which had seen declines of -9.9% and -9.8% respectively, according to the Ipsos Retail Performance’s Retail Traffic Index, which is derived from over 90 million individual shopper visits a month to 5,000 non-food retail stores.

The three-month trend in the year-on-year gap continued to widen, from -7.8% last month to -8.6% this month. This is the fifth consecutive month that it has expanded. 

Against September, average weekly footfall was up 1.1%. London and the south-east was the only region in which average weekly footfall fell against that in September (-1.1%). The fortnight’s disruption of the public transport network in London by Extinction Rebellion protests added to the woes of retailers in the capital during the month.

‘Since mid-summer non-food retailers have undoubtedly faced a drop in demand against last year, reflected both in store sales and footfall. Some will be looking at the year-on-year figures and reflecting on the latest casualty on the high street, Bonmarché, together with the news about John Lewis suffering its first ever half-yearly loss,’ says Tim Denison, Ipsos Retail Performance director of retail intelligence.

‘The month-on-month data tells a more positive story though, as we head towards peak season. For the first time in five years, average weekly footfall in October was up on September’s. Furthermore, with school half-term falling a week later this year, pushing into November, the increase in weekly footfall makes even better reading for October and also bodes well for November. Quite which way the Golden Quarter will play out this year is a pure guessing game at this stage. These early signals might indicate that consumers could be building a head of steam, with an eye on Black Friday and the promise of windfall of winter bargains, after an autumn of abstinence.’