UK footfall decreased by 3.7 per cent year-on-year last week as Christmas shoppers remained cautious over spending, according to figures released today by the BRC-Springboard Footfall Monitor.
Low levels of consumer confidence have impacted footfall over the period, as 60 per cent of shoppers aim to reduce retail spend over the next six months.
The footfall decline has been partially blamed on a public sector strike last year, which led to a sharp rise in footfall as people used their free time to shop.
Out-of-town shopping centres saw the biggest year-on-year decrease in footfall, which fell by 5.7 per cent due to bad weather and flooding making travel difficult.
But footfall has increased on a week-on-week basis, rising by 7.3 per cent last week.
Shopping centres were most strongly impacted by this week-on-week improvement, reporting a 12.2 per cent rise in footfall in the week commencing November 26th while, by comparison, high street locations saw footfall jump by 7.3 per cent week-on-week as out of town shopping centres reported a 1.8 per cent boost.
British Retail Consortium (BRC) Director General Stephen Robertson said: “Shopper numbers went up by 7.3 per cent last week compared with the previous week, suggesting that passing the ‘one month to go‘ mark, coupled with payday, motivated many to start making some headway on their Christmas lists.
“But, footfall was down compared with the same week in 2011, indicating that some are holding back on festive shopping more than they did last year.
“It‘s important to note that the same week last year coincided with a public sector strike and so comparisons are against unusually high levels.
“This trend of taking care not to spend too much too soon paints a similar picture to the November Retail Sales Monitor, and confirms that there‘s all to play for as Christmas gets ever closer.”
Yesterday, the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor found that retail sales in the UK grew just 0.4 per cent last month as consumers avoided unnecessary spend and postponed Christmas shopping as long as possible.
However, Springboard‘s Research Director Diane Wehrle expects that sales will improve in the coming weeks as dangerous weather improves.
“Footfall has dropped in all retail environments from 2011 over the last three weeks, and for the first two weeks retail parks fared most favourably,” she said.
“Latterly, however, high streets appeared to have been the most resilient destination with last week‘s torrential rain across the UK hitting retail parks hardest, most probably due to the need to make potentially hazardous car journeys in adverse weather to reach them.
“The weather will have undoubtedly deterred shoppers from all destinations, and deferred the expected pay weekend uplift to this week.”