Signs of improvement in high street footfall emerge in May

May footfall
// May footfall declined 2.3% year-on-year, according to Ipsos Retail Performance
// This is better than April’s decline of 2.9% and the May Day bank holiday saw 8.6% growth

Store visits over the May Day bank holiday grew significantly on last year, allowing footfall figures for the month to show signs of improvement.

The latest Retail Traffic Index from Ipsos Retail Performance show that store visits over the May Day bank holiday were up by 8.4 per cent when compared to last year, which helped contribute to the solid month.

For the whole of May, the indiex showed that retail footfall held up well, falling by only 2.3 per cent against the same month last year and stronger than the surprise 2.9 per cent drop recorded in in April.

The index’s three-month average decline of 1.2 per cent is also the narrowest gap in year-on-year footfall levels since April-June 2017.

Meanwhile, the 0.8 per cent decline in average weekly traffic compared to April denotes the best May performance in four years.

“All in all, consumers seem to be defying all the uncertainty around Brexit,” Ipsos Retail Performance retail intelligence director Dr Tim Denison said.

“They aren’t feeling the pinch financially, so why wouldn’t they carry on regardless.

“The current strength of real earnings growth, consumer confidence and employment underpin the relative improvement in footfall figures.

“That said, retailers continue to make the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The cost and margin pressures that retailers are under threaten their commercial viability.”

He added: “With store footfall showing signs of improving, retailers would do well to start deploying strategies to wean consumers off the discount diet that they have been fed for so long.

“In the long run, no-one benefits from window-to-window 70 per cent reduction posters along the high street.

“June’s footfall will give us a better steer as to whether retail footfall is genuinely beginning to pull out of its nose dive, assuming that economic conditions continue to remain placid for consumers. We live in hope.”

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