High street footfall declined by -4.5% year on year in the five weeks to 29 June 2019, in contrast to a 0.1% increase in June last year, according to new data.

High Street

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard figures showed that overall footfall fell by -2.9%, compared to the same point last year when it declined by -0.9%, while retail park footfall increased by 0.1% and shopping centre footfall fell by -2.4%.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said high streets were badly affected by the relatively poor June weather, and called for business rates reform to encourage investment.

“Poor footfall this June led to a significant fall in the sales figures for the month. High streets were worst hit by the relatively poor June weather, with shopping centres also performing badly, however, retail parks managed to buck the trend. Last year’s World Cup and glorious sunshine set a high bar, which 2019’s slow consumer spending and Brexit uncertainty failed to live up to,” she said.

“High streets and shopping centres across the country need to invest in improving their consumer experience if they wish to see these footfall numbers reverse. Unfortunately, high business rates, as well as a raft of other public policy costs, mean there is little left over to spend on these improvements. If the government wants to see more investment on the high street then they must reform the broken business rates system and give firms the means to make the necessary improvements.”

On a three-month basis, footfall decreased by 2.4%, while the six- and 12–month averages were at -1.3% and -1.7% respectively.

Springboard marketing and insights director, Diane Wehrle, said: “It was clearly high streets and shopping centres that bore the brunt of consumers railing back on their shopping trips, whilst retail parks maintained their customer base.

“However, whilst footfall in high streets across the UK dropped by -4.5% in June, the continuing and growing demand from consumers for experience meant that in regional cities - which by virtue of the sheer breadth and depth of their offer means they can deliver on experience - footfall was far more resilient, declining only very marginally by -0.6%.

“And the same rule of ’experience delivering results’ also applies for shopping centres. Whilst footfall in shopping centres across the UK declined by -2.4% in June, in the largest centres of more than half a million sq ft the drop was just -0.5%, and only -0.1% in those largest centres with a strong dining offer.”

She added that consumer demand was polarised between the convenience and accessibility provided by retail parks, and “consumers’ craving for experience, driving them towards larger retail destinations”.