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British shopping spree comes to end with sudden drop in footfall

The UK’s high streets suffered their steepest decline in footfall since the EU referendum

Miles Dilworth
Monday 12 June 2017 07:57 BST
UK consumers reigned in their spending in the run up to the general election
UK consumers reigned in their spending in the run up to the general election (Reuters)

A surge in spring shopping came to a halt last month, with new figures showing footfall in the UK in May fell by 1 per cent compared to the same month last year, the first such decline since February.

The UK’s high streets in particular suffered from a miserly May, registering a 2 per cent drop in footfall, the steepest decline since a 3.7 per cent fall in the wake of the EU referendum in June 2016, according to retail footfall analyst Springboard.

Despite the loss in momentum, average growth over the three-month period from March through May remained positive at 0.7 per cent thanks to Easter’s boost in shopper numbers. The news means that it is the first time UK footfall has experienced two consecutive periods of three-month average growth since June-August 2013, following positive average growth from February through April.

Footfall to retail park destinations grew by 1.5 per cent in May, but this was below the three-month average growth rate of 1.8 per cent.

Shopping centre footfall fell by 1.3 per cent during the month, below the three-month average decline of 0.5 per cent.

The drop in footfall was mirrored by a drop of 3.7 per cent in UK sales, as measured by Springboard’s sales index, which tracks sales in bricks and mortar stores.

Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director, said that May’s decline was “unsurprising” given the Easter surge and the fact that UK consumers tend to exercise greater restraint in the run up to a general election.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said that May’s poor weather may also have contributed to a drop in footfall, with more people electing to stay indoors.

“In an uncertain economic climate, retailers will be looking to the next Government to deliver on their commitment to fundamental reform of business rates; to implement a more sustainable system that allows for growth and investment,” she added.

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