Last month’s heatwave proved to be a saving grace for retail destinations across the country, with footfall edging up by 0.8 per cent compared to the same period in 2016.
According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard’s monthly footfall monitor, the overall footfall in June increased also by 0.5 per cent on a three-month basis — marginally down on a 0.7 per cent rise in the previous two months.
The high street on its own was the standout performer, with footfall rising 0.9 per cent in June – five basis points above the three month average of 0.4 per cent and marked improvement on the 3.7 per cent decline recorded in June 2016.
Meanwhile, retail park locations continued to trade well, with footfall growing by 2.3 per cent in June compared to the one per cent decrease in the same period last year year.
While this is also an improvement on the 1.5 per cent uptick recorded in May, it is below the three-month average of 2.2 per cent.
On the other hand, shopping centres fell by 0.8 per cent in June — but this is an improvement on the 2.3 per cent drop that was recorded in the same month last year and marginally above the three month average of a drop of 0.9 per cent.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said that while summer’s arrival bolstered the footfall numbers in June, sustaining that growth would be challenging.
“Most parts of the UK benefitted from these sun-fuelled shopping outings, with the east of England especially witnessing brisk growth,” she said.
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“Amidst economic uncertainty and mounting concern over the inflationary squeeze on household incomes, sustaining growth in shopper footfall will be challenging, more so as retailers seek to convert that into an improved performance at tills.
“And while they step up their efforts to keep prices down for their customers against rising input prices and inflation, the government can help alleviate the cost pressures in the immediate term by sticking to their commitment on business rates reform to deliver a system fit for purpose in the 21st century.”
Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle warned that the footfall numbers don’t necessarily translate into sale growth.
“The rise in footfall of 0.8 per cent in June is a result that tells a different story to the sales statistics we are seeing, with the Springboard Sales Tracker recording drops in sales in department stores of 1.6 per cent and of 2.3 per cent in fashion stores.
“However, sales do present a very varied picture, dependent on the breadth of the measure used and inflationary pressures which push sales values up.”
Wehrle added: “The weather was far better than in June last year, which encourages consumers to visit bricks-and-mortar destinations, particularly external environments such as high streets and retail parks.
“Also in recent months, we have seen rising footfall in the hours after 5pm, illustrating the trend in consumer behaviour towards leisure trips after retail trading hours, demonstrated by the rise in hospitality sales of 0.3 per cent in June.
“In June, however, the better weather supported the increase in footfall during daytime hours. Indeed, the cumulative impact of both these factors accounts for the weaker footfall performance in shopping centres compared with high streets and retail parks.”
The news follows Ipsos Retail Performance’s latest Retail Traffic Index last week, which revealed the average weekly footfall increased by 10.4 per cent in June compared to May – the highest month-on-month increase for June since the index was launched 20 years ago.