High street footfall declined by 1.9% year-on-year in the four weeks to 24 August 2019, following a 2% decline in August last year, according to new data.

High street

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard figures showed that the three-month average high street footfall decline was 3.1%.

Overall footfall fell by 1.3%, compared to the same point last year when it declined by 1.6%, while retail park footfall increased by 1% and shopping centre footfall fell by 2.2%.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said the figures reflected the fact that consumers were “increasingly cautious”.

“Retail footfall continues its downwards trajectory this month, with high streets and shopping centres most affected. The long-term trend, which has seen footfall decline by an average of 1.7% over the last 12 months, reflects the fact that increasingly cautious consumers are holding back on discretionary spending and not heading out to the shops,” she said.

“There is little sign that the stresses on retail will abate any time soon. Stuck between weak demand thanks to Brexit uncertainty, and rising costs resulting from business rates and other public policy costs, many retailers are clearly struggling. The government should take the opportunity to reduce the heavy cost burden holding back retail investment.”

On a three-month basis, footfall decreased by 2.1%, while the six- and 12–month averages were at 1.4% and 1.7% respectively.

Springboard marketing and insights director, Diane Wehrle, said: “In the face of weak consumer confidence and declining sales a drop in footfall of 1.3% in August wasn’t unexpected. We must remember that declining footfall is a long term trend with annual increases being the exception rather than the rule. Indeed, footfall has declined in every year since Springboard started publishing its national data in January 2009.

“On a positive note, August had the strongest footfall over the summer months, and it was also an improvement on last year when footfall declined by 1.6%. This month’s result was bolstered by the final week of the month, when the hottest August bank holiday on record improved footfall from -1.4% to -0.6%.”