Average footfall across the UK fell 3.5% in May – the steepest decline in six years, data from Springboard and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) shows.
The high street was hardest hit as footfall fell by 4.8% year on year, followed by a 3.6% decline at shopping centres. Footfall to retail parks was down 0.8%.
Springboard marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle said: “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.
“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.
“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.”
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson added: “The UK experienced the worst footfall figures in six years, with declines in every region and across high streets, retail parks and shopping centres.
“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 or not. 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.”