A wet start to summer and uncertainty surrounding Brexit has led to the shapest decline in footfall in retail since February 2014, according to new research.
Data compiled by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard i ndicated that footfall was down by 2.8 per cent year-on-year for the five weeks to July 2.
High streets had the worst performance, dropping 3.7 per cent in that same period, followed by shopping centres, which experienced a 2.3 per cent decline. Meanwhile, footfall in retail parks dipped one per cent.
The news comes almost a week after the latest Retail Sales Monitor Report was published, produced by KPMG and British Retail Consortium (BRC), which showed retail sales had gone down by 0.5 per cent on a like-for-like basis from June last year.
Springboard marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle said it was "unsurprising" there was a 2.8 drop in footfall across the UK in June, given the upheaval the country went through with the EU referendum set against a backdrop of a cooler, wetter start to summer than usual.
"Footfall deteriorated from a 0.4 per cent rise in the first week of June to a 4.6 per cent drop during the week of the referendum and a 3.4 per cent drop in the weeks following, as consumer confidence was hit, despite retailers discounting throughout the period in early season sales," she said.
“In the last three weeks of the month the drop in footfall averaged 4.1 per cent compared with just -0.9 per cent in the same weeks last year. Whilst the cooler more rainy weather than last year will explain some of this degradation in performance, it is unlikely that it will have accounted for all the five per cent drop in footfall of across UK destinations in the seven days post the referendum.
"Most significant is the out-of-town footfall decline; the first drop since December 2013. It is more likely that consumers' attention was diverted in the immediate aftermath – the issue for retailers is how quickly shoppers will return to their usual patterns of behaviour.”
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BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said that despite the figures, which were published today, UK retail sales also rose in that same period.
"June has seen many distractions from Euro 2016 to Wimbledon so heading out to the shops seems to have slipped down the priority list for many," she said.
"In the coming months we all must redouble our efforts to remind customers that now is a great time to get out into their local communities.
“Retailers continue to focus relentlessly on delivering for shoppers day in, day out, and they know that providing a great in-store experience is key to driving up footfall. Although there is a level of uncertainty, it is important that this doesn’t deter us from the shopping and leisure activities we all enjoy.
"The EU referendum will not have changed the in-store experience for customers and, crucially, the price of goods on the shelves. Now is a great time for shoppers as the summer sales begin in earnest following on from a record 38 months of falling shop prices.”