The UK has experienced the worst footfall figures in six years last month, with high streefootfall falling by -4.8% in the four weeks to 25 May 2018, according to new data.

empty high street

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard figures showed that overall footfall fell by -3.5%, compared to the same point last year when it declined by -0.4%, while retail park and shopping centre footfall declined by -0.8% and -3.6% respectively.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson, said:The UK experienced the worst footfall figures in six years, with declines in every region, and across high streets, retail parks and shopping centres. This reflects our recent sales data, which showed the largest drop in retail sale on record. The colder weather, as well as ongoing political and economic uncertainty, made many consumers think twice before heading out to the shops this May.

“While consumers stayed away from the shops this May, retailers still had to pay the full cost of Business Rates, which are levied regardless of whether a store makes a penny at the till. These rising costs are making many retailers rethink investment decisions, as well as contributing to store closures up and down the country. The Government must act to reform this anachronistic tax system, or it will be the consumers who suffer the shuttered windows at their local shopping locations.”

On a three-month basis, footfall decreased by -0.7%, while the six and 12 month averages were at -1.3% and -1.4% respectively.

Springboard marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle said: “All destination types found it much tougher this May to attract customers, but the fact that the greatest impact was felt by high streets with a drop in footfall of -4.8% is not a surprise given the much poorer weather than in May last year. 

“The -3.5% drop in footfall in UK bricks and mortar destinations in May is a poor result and is consistent with the drop in sales for the month. However, we should note the year on year comparisons are off the back of a particularly strong result in May last year of -0.4% which was boosted by warm weather and special events and followed on from a challenging April marred by bad weather and loss of seasonal sales due to the early March Easter.

“Nonetheless, it is really important to note the longer term trend, with footfall declining by just -1.1% over the five month period since January. This a much improved position on the drop of -2.4% over the same five month period last year, showing us that the reduction in customers visiting retail destinations this year has slowed, a more positive result than might have been expected.”