// October Retail Traffic Index shows a year-on-year drop of 6.2% in UK store visits
// This was an improvement on the previous two months which had seen declines of 9.9% and 9.8% respectively
// However, against September, average weekly footfall was up 1.1%
The ongoing decline in footfall across the UK’s high streets has continued into October, further adding to the woes already plaguing the retail industry.
The latest Retail Traffic Index shows that retail footfall in non-food stores fell by 6.2 per cent in October compared to the same month of the previous year.
Despite the drop, this was an improvement on the previous two months which had seen declines of 9.9 per cent and 9.8 per cent respectively.
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In addition, against September, the average overall weekly footfall was up by 1.1 per cent.
However, the three-month trend in the year-on-year gap continued to widen, from declines of 7.8 per cent last month to 8.6 per cent this month.
Ipsos Retail Performance, the firm that collates the Retail Traffic Index, this is the fifth consecutive month that this gap has expanded.
Meanwhile, London & the South East was the only region in which average weekly footfall fell against that in September – declining 1.1 per cent.
Ipsos said the fortnight’s disruption of the public transport network in London by Extinction Rebellion protests added to the woes of retailers in the capital during the month.
“Since mid-summer non-food retailers have undoubtedly faced a drop in demand against last year, reflected both in store sales and footfall,” Ipsos Retail Performance intelligence director Dr Tim Denison said.
“Some will be looking at the year-on-year figures and reflecting on the latest casualty on the high street, Bonmarché, together with the news about John Lewis suffering its first ever half-yearly loss.
“The month-on-month data tells a more positive story though, as we head towards peak season.
“For the first time in five years, average weekly footfall in October was up on September’s.
“Furthermore, with school half term falling a week later this year, pushing into November, the increase in weekly footfall makes even better reading for October and also bodes well for November.
“Quite which way the Golden Quarter will play out this year is a pure guessing game at this stage.
“These early signals might indicate that consumers could be building a head of steam, with an eye on Black Friday and the promise of windfall of winter bargains, after an autumn of abstinence.
“Retailers will be working as hard as always to trim their sails to the wind and make the most of the puffs of demand as they blow.
“If any early puff presents itself, retailers will likely bring campaign start dates forward, particularly as the number of shopping days between Black Friday and Christmas Day is compressed into almost a full week fewer than last year.”