Retail footfall declined by -1.3% in August, compared to the same point in 2018 when it declined by -1.6%, reports BRC-Springboard. High street footfall fell -1.9%, retail park footfall increased +1.0%, and shopping centre footfall fell -2.2%

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson OBE says: “Retail footfall continues its downwards trajectory this month, with high streets and shopping centres most affected. The long-term trend, which has seen footfall decline by an average of -1.7% over the last 12 months, reflects the fact that increasingly cautious consumers are holding back on discretionary spending and not heading out to the shops. Only retail parks, with their combination of activities and shopping, were able to buck the trend. 

“There is little sign that the stresses on retail will abate any time soon. Stuck between weak demand thanks to Brexit uncertainty, and rising costs resulting from business rates and other public policy costs, many retailers are clearly struggling. The Government should take the opportunity to reduce the heavy cost burden holding back retail investment.”

Diane Wehrle, Springboard's marketing and insights director, adds: “In the face of weak consumer confidence and declining sales a drop in footfall of -1.3% in August wasn't unexpected. We must remember that declining footfall is a long-term trend with annual increases being the exception rather than the rule. Indeed, footfall has declined in every year since Springboard started publishing its national data in January 2009.

“On a positive note, August had the strongest footfall over the summer months, and it was also an improvement on last year when footfall declined by -1.6%. This month’s result was bolstered by the final week of the month, when the hottest August bank holiday on record improved footfall from -1.4% to -0.6%.

“The final week of the month also highlighted the difference in consumer demand for each of the destination types. Despite back-to-school trading, footfall in shopping centres dropped by -2.4% in the final week compared with an average of -2% over the previous three weeks. In high streets, footfall strengthened noticeably in the final week to just -0.1%, moving from a decline of more than -2% in each of the first three weeks, as consumers looked to make the most of the good weather. In contrast, in retail parks footfall rose in each of the first three weeks, averaging +1%, levelling off in the last week but remaining in positive territory. This demonstrates their ongoing attractiveness to shoppers as they continue to bridge the convenience-experience gap, necessary in today’s retail environment.”