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Brexit woes and wet weather dampen October footfall

Retail footfall faced further decline in the month of October, according to new figures from the BRC-Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor.

Footfall in non-food stores fell -6.2% from October of the previous year, whilst shopper numbers fell significantly by -3.2%. 

Reduced footfall was felt in all sectors of retail, across the high street, retail parks and shopping centres. The high street saw a -4.9% decline year-on-year, steeper than September’s decline of -1.7%.

Meanwhile, retail park footfall was down -0.5%, and shopping centres faced a -2.4% drop in footfall compared with the previous year.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of BRC, said that “wet and wintery weather” may be to blame for these figures, with the cold season “putting off many consumers from venturing out to the shops”. 

She 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.” 

Dickinson added: “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 £17 billion 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.” 

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard, said: “The drop in footfall of -3.2% was the worst result for October in seven years.  

“Whilst it can’t be regarded as a purely pre Brexit breakdown as the weather also played a part, the prevailing political uncertainty must be having a considerable impact on activity given the low level of consumer confidence.” 

 

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