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Footfall drops in August

Footfall in the UK fell by nearly 1% last month – the lowest footfall rate since heavy snow drove shoppers off the streets in March, BRC/Springboard data has revealed.

High street footfall dropped 0.6%, although this was on the back of a good performance last year.

Out of town locations were flat, but it was shopping centre locations that dragged the national average down, with declines of 2.2% on 2012.

This was however a slight improvement on July’s decline of 2.3%.

Retail centres in the North and Yorkshire were the only areas to report positive footfall growth, up 0.1%. All other regions and nations reported a decline in footfall.

BRC director general Helen Dickinson highlighted variations in the usual summer pattern last year caused by the London Olympics as playing a role in the figures.

“We’re comparing against August 2012, when an Olympic influx in some areas pushed up the UK average, and it’s also possible that more of us took our holidays after electing to stay put for last year’s summer of sport,” she said.

“All in all, these figures need to be taken in tandem with the recent rosier economic news, including a good run of sales growth and many of us starting to feel more positive about the economy.  A small dip in one month shouldn’t take the shine off the tentative signs of improving consumer confidence hinted at in recent times, and retailers are working hard to read these conditions so that they can continue to deliver for their customers.”

Diane Wehrle, retail insights director at Springboard, described the drop as surprising. 

She added:  “Given the increase in sales in August, the lack of uplift in footfall indicates that the number of customers visiting our retail locations is remaining steady in overall terms but they are spending more. The footfall performance of retail parks clearly reflects the fact that home products were the best performers in sales terms in August, which may well have deflected footfall away from high streets and shopping centres. “

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