UK shopper footfall has fallen this September by 1.7%, with figures indicating that poor end-of-the-month weather is to blame.
Figures released by Springboard and the British Retail Consortium suggest that the major loss in customers for bricks and mortar stores fell in the final week of September, with a decline of 6.1%. Throughout September, footfall in shopping centres fell by 3.2%, and high street shoppers fell by 1.8%. Retail parks, on-trend with changing consumer behaviour, had a small increase of footfall by 0.1%. This small increase suggests the steps taken to transform retail parks into more inviting places to visit is starting to take effect. They now feature not only large warehouse-style stores but also fashion outlets and dining and leisure options.
This coincides with heavy rainfall and poor weather, suggesting that many shoppers preferred to stay home and complete their purchases online. This exemplifies the concerning trend that is growing in retail, with the advent of online shopping, consumers in growing numbers are opting to simply stay at home.
Brexit can be seen to be a further cause of this, with growing uncertainty leading to more cautious buying behaviour. Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive state, “With Brexit looming, many consumers are holding off from all but essential purchases, and it is no surprise that the 1.7% drop in footfall has also contributed to a similar fall in sales.”
The last month’s numbers may seem small, but this reduction in shoppers comes off the back of a similar reduction in footfall from the previous year, suggesting an all the more worrying trend is emerging in the sector. Fashion was a sector hit especially hard, with footfall to clothing shops falling proportionally more than to other destinations.
The end-of-month weather may be a dark cloud over an otherwise positive month, however, which was showing relatively positive numbers in the previous four weeks. “Had the last week’s rain not hit the month’s performance, it is likely that footfall for the month would have dropped by less than 1%,” said Diane Wehrle, Springboard Marketing and Insights Director.
There is still more hope to come as well, as the most important shopping period is just around the corner. “With 80% of spend remaining in-store there is still much for bricks and mortar stores to play for in Q4 of 2019, which of course includes the all-important festive trading period,” Wehrle said.