High Street

Feb footfall signals 15th month of decline

Footfall fell by 2% in February, a significant decline compared with the previous year, when it fell by 0.2%, and marks the fifteenth consecutive month of decline.

According to the BRC’s figures it was also the weakest February in five years. High street footfall was found to have declined by 1.9%, marking seven consecutive months of weakening for this shopping location and was a deeper decline relative to the previous year when footfall fell by 1.2%.

Meanwhile retail parks footfall declined by 0.8%, compared with the previous year where it experienced 1.4% growth in traffic. Shopping centre footfall declined by 3.4%, a deeper decline than last year’s fall of 0.9%. No region was found to have experienced growth in shopping centres in February.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: “Consumers have been cautious in their spending, leading to the biggest drop in February footfall for five years. These figures echo the month’s poor retail sales figures, which saw weak growth, particularly in bricks-and-mortar stores. While real incomes have been rising over the last year, the uncertainty surrounding Brexit appears to be driving a needs-not-wants approach top shopping.

“Things could get a lot worse unless the government is able to avoid a calamitous no deal Brexit. Such a scenario would likely result in higher costs, higher prices and less choice for consumers – all of which would further harm struggling retailers. The government must act to protect both consumers and retailers by ensuring there is no chance of a no deal Brexit.”

Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director, added: “Footfall declined in all but one geography and in all but two areas the drop was greater than -2% with a fall of just -1.4% in Greater London. The result for London will in part have been due to Chinese New Year occurring in February this year, but it is actually not an unusual outcome as footfall in Greater London is generally the last to decline and the first to recover due to the diversity of its economy and sheer volume of activity.

“What would have seemed highly unlikely this time last year, is that there was a more modest decline in footfall during day time hours of -1.5% compared with -3.3% post 5pm. To some degree this will have been a consequence of the cost of evening dining which typically is higher than lunch; but the warm weather during what was half term week in many areas will have also increased the appeal of daytime trips for which evening trips will have been sacrificed.”

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