New figures show
Footfall fell in May by 0.4 per cent on the previous year, a marked improvement over March and April, which recorded declines of 6.0 per cent and 3.3 per cent, respectively. However, footfall was still down, despite May being a great month for sales (due to weather and following a poor comparable from last year) and in-store sales recording growth for the first time in two years.
Retail Parks saw growth of 0.5 per cent and High Streets of 0.6 per cent, but Shopping Centres continued to see significant year on year declines, posting a fall of 2.9 per cent in May.
Only three regions saw footfall grow in May: North & Yorkshire (0.7 per cent), Northern Ireland (0.5 per cent) and Wales (0.6 per cent). The biggest decline was in Greater London (1.5 per cent). All regions improved on last month.
Diane Wehrle, Springboard Marketing and Insights Director said: “It would be highly premature to regard the improvement in UK footfall to -0.4% in May from a drop of -3.3% in April as any form of bounce back. Instead at least in part it is likely to be a consequence of shopping trips being deferred from April – when the weather continued to be cold and wet – into May. It might also be regarded as a reflection of consumer demand resulting from the two May bank holidays which anchored the month at both ends. In reality, however, footfall actually declined in both bank holiday weeks, reflecting a long term trend identified by Springboard of the lessening in importance of public holidays for retail.
“The greater truth is that with footfall post 5pm continuing to outperform activity during retail trading hours the overriding characteristic of customer behaviour is firmly one of “experience over product”. In May footfall between 9am and 5pm declined by -1.2% whilst rising by +2% post 5pm; and the variance between the two parts of the day is most significant in shopping centres where day time footfall dropped by -3.6% compared with a rise of +0.4% post 5pm. And although the post 5pm period is still less significant in terms of the volume of activity, the ongoing drop in day time footfall means that the number of customers visiting bricks and mortar stores will continue to diminish, leaving the onus on retailers to better exploit a reduced store customer base in order to drive sales growth.