All regions saw a year-on-year drop in footfall, with Scotland and Northern Ireland recording a 3.3% decline and northern England seeing 5.5% less retail visitors. The Midlands, south west England and Wales and London and the south east saw decreases of 5.1%, 8.2% and 1.4% respectively. Overall, footfall was down 4.4%
Month-on-month footfall yielded similar results with Scotland showing a decline of 3.4% and London and the south east seeing 1.5% less shoppers. Positive results were seen in other regions; northern England was up 0.4%, the Midlands 2.3% and south west England and Wales 0.1%. Overall, footfall was down 7.1% when compared with the previous month of August.
Ipsos said the reduction in the year-on-year deficit in footfall that began in August continued in September but it predicted that would improve in October with a forecasted 1% increase.
Dr Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance said: “From a demand perspective, the figures are encouraging. New ranges and attractive prices drew in shoppers and the growth in real earnings since February together with credit card spending on the rise have been the main facilitators.
“The clothing and shoe sector delivered the strongest footfall in the quarter, achieving +0.1% growth compared to 2017. General/variety stores struggled the most, with just 28.3% managing to improve their conversion rate. As we move into the peak quarter, retailers will be going the extra mile to ring in the sales. We expect October to be a slower month, with consumers deferring high ticket purchases to Black Friday campaigns.”
He added: “Signs of stronger footfall will encourage the boldest retailers to bolster their Christmas orders, but overzealousness could expose them to crippling stock piles after the festive season. With all the uncertainties building around Brexit, and the UK’s trade agreements the months ahead will be defining times for the industry, challenging the acumen of even the very best leadership teams in retailing.”