A combination of wet and wintry weather, Brexit and political uncertainty caused UK footfall to fall in October, new data has revealed.
Research from Springboard and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) shows that total UK footfall declined 3.2% year on year in October, compared with the same period last year.
On the high street, footfall recorded a far steeper like-for-like rate of decline in October than in September, dropping 4.9%. Retail park footfall declined for the first time in five months by 0.5% year on year, while shopping centre footfall declined by 2.4% in October compared to the same month in 2018.
Meanwhile, the UK vacancy rate increased to 10% in October, from 10.3% in July.
“High streets were hit hardest in October, with the wet and wintry weather putting off many consumers from venturing out to the shops”, Helen Dickinson chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said. ”Weak consumer demand and Brexit uncertainty have both impacted sales in recent months, and this could be further affected by the imminent election campaigning. Nonetheless, retailers will be hoping for footfall to pick up as they enter the all-important Golden Quarter. There is some cause for optimism, with the vacancy rate decreasing slightly, buoyed by strong results in London which saw vacancies fall by almost a third.
“The election offers an opportunity for a future government to outline how it would support an industry that pays over £17bn in tax every year and employs over three million people. With retail accounting for 5% of the economy yet paying 10% of all business taxes and 25% of business rates, it is clear there is room for improvement. The next government should follow the Treasury Select Committee’s advice and scrap downwards transition, which takes money from retailers and uses it to subsidise other industries.”