Poor weather sees footfall decline in August

Total UK footfall dropped by 1.6 per cent last month, as Brits faced a sunless August.

The number of shoppers on UK High Streets declined by 0.9 per cent during month compared to July, according to the latest footfall figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

During the four-week period, retail parks saw unchanged footfall numbers, while shopping centres saw footfall decrease by 3.8 per cent in comparison with the previous month.

While Scotland saw a year-on-year rise in footfall of 0.4 per cent, England saw a drop of 1.3 per cent.

Wales also saw an overall decline of 1.7 per cent, with Northern Ireland recording the highest drop in shopper numbers at 4.7 per cent.

“Footfall took a turn for the worse in August as the summer sun failed to materialise,” said Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC. “The impact was made worse when compared to last year’s heatwave, where many shoppers rushed to the shops to buy clothing, BBQs and other outdoor essentials."

The chief exec added that a rise in tourism, which returned to pre-Covid levels in August, also impacted footfall figures.

Andy Sumpter, retail consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, which partners with BRC on the footfall figures, pointed out that August showed some positive performance in some hub cities, including Edinburgh, London, Liverpool, and Manchester. He said that this was likely driven by ambient footfall which was boosted by tourism and school holiday staycations.

“Similarly, while our data showed the number of store counts of shoppers to retail units within shopping centres and retail parks dipped last month, the number of visitors to those retail settings remained positive,” added Sumpter. “So, even if consumers are being more purposeful, visiting fewer stores during each shopping trip, the opportunity to benefit from that ambient footfall remains – the key will be how retailers can tap into that opportunity to turn passing trade into store visits and sales through meaningful store experiences and a retail offer that speaks to value.”

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