Retail store footfall fell by -9.8% last month against August 2018, after a promising recovery in recent months, according to Ipsos Retail Performance.
The deficit was the worst posted since July 2018. Average weekly footfall in the month was down by -5.4%.
The figures were most dramatic in London and the South East, where August’s numbers were down -18.1% YoY and -9.1% MoM.
Expectations that the first week of the month would represent the summer peak failed to materialise. Instead, footfall peaked over the week commencing 30th June, well in advance of the start of the school holidays. This is the first time that this has happened since Ipsos launched its Retail Traffic Index in 2000.
Dr Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos, says: “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 increasingly 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.”