Footfall in October fell by 2.9 per cent compared to the same period last year as figures showed the worst performance since the start of the year on a three month rolling basis.
High streets reported the greatest fall, down 3.6 per cent, followed by shopping centres which were unchanged from September’s 2.9 per cent decline, said the BRC/Springboard footfall and vacancies monitor.
Footfall trends have now been on an accelerating downward slide for three months from an annual fall of just -0.9 per cent in August, to -2.5 per cent in September and then to -2.9 per cent in October.
The East was the only region to report positive footfall growth, up 0.8 per cent compared with a year earlier. Out-of-town locations improved slightly to -1.2 per cent.
Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said it was disappointing to see shopper numbers falling again after September’s slowdown. “Despite the tentative optimism in the air, it’s clear that conditions remain challenging. Retailers will be hoping that a festive boost to browsing and buying puts things back on a more even keel over the coming months.”
The town centre vacancy rate was 11.1 per cent in October and remained the same from July’s rate.
However, Dickinson said the results masked widespread variations across the UK. “There are nearly twelve percentage points between London’s vacancy rate and Northern Ireland’s, and the latter’s increase is coupled with an equally worrying steep drop in shopper numbers.”
It is likely that colder weather in October influenced shoppers to shop in shopping centre rather than on the high street.
Diane Wehrle, Retail Insights Director at Springboard, explained: “The likelihood of the weather being at least part of the issue is substantiated by the fact that this replicates a similar trend to October last year when high streets recorded a drop in footfall which was 0.5 percentage point greater than in shopping centres.
“Out-of-town locations have clearly been the most resilient, with an annual drop in footfall of less than half that recorded in shopping centres and a third of the drop in high street footfall – clearly the result of the recorded demand for leisure, household and games products.”