Footfall across the UK continued to decline, as shopper numbers fell by 0.4% compared with the same month last year.
However, shopper numbers were up by 0.6% on high streets and 0.5% at retail parks year on year, the latest British Retail Consortium/Springboard Footfall and Vacancies report shows. This was offset by a decline of 2.9% at shopping centres,
Only three regions recorded footfall growth in May: North and Yorkshire (0.7%), Northern Ireland (0.5%) and Wales (0.6%). The biggest decline was in Greater London (1.5%).
Springboard marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle said: “It would be highly premature to regard the improvement in UK footfall to -0.4% in May from a drop of -3.3% in April as any form of bounceback.
“Instead at least in part it is likely to be a consequence of shopping trips being deferred from April – when the weather continued to be cold and wet – to May. It might also be regarded as a reflection of consumer demand resulting from the two May bank holidays that anchored the month at both ends.
“In reality, however, footfall actually declined in both bank holiday weeks, reflecting a long-term trend identified by Springboard of the lessening in importance of public holidays for retail.”
Helen Dickinson, CEO of the British Retail Consortium, added: “May’s better weather resulted in a marginal improvement in footfall across the nation’s high street and out-of-town shopping areas, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the long-term trend of declining visits to physical stores. Consumer behaviour is changing and retailers are continuing to adapt their stores to their customers’ requirements by investing in the integration of their online and bricks and mortar businesses, increasingly allowing customers to pick up items purchased online in stores.
“Policy makers can help to ease the pressure on both retailers and high streets by addressing the burden of business rates and adapting planning laws to support the successful reinvention of empty retail space.”