Close this search box.

Footfall falls for second consecutive month as online sales rise

This is an archived article - we have removed images and other assets but have left the text unchanged for your reference

The number of people visiting the UK’s shops fell in May for the second month in a row as more people went online to shop, according to British Retail Consortium figures. Despite the fall, the total retail spend rose during the month.

Total retail footfall fell by 0.2% last month, the BRC-Springboard Retail Footfall Monitor found. The fall came at a time when total retail sales rose by 2%, and online sales by 17%, according to BRC figures of the previous week.

The biggest losers from the drop in footfall were shopping centres, where footfall was down by 1.5% compared to April, and 0.9% down on average over the three months between March and May, on last time.

High streets also saw fewer visitors, with footfall down by 0.9% on the previous month, but up by 0.3% over the three months. But out-of-town bucked the trend, with visitors up by 3.3% in May and by 3.4% over the three months.

“This is the second successive month that footfall has eased back a touch, compared to the same period last year,” said Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium director general. “However actual retail sales over the period have risen, which points to the continuing impact and popularity of online shopping, particularly in non-food categories. Many retailers are increasingly adept at harnessing the internet and multichannel innovations to get through to customers who might not have time to travel to the shops.”

She said out-of-town locations had done well as people bought bigger ticket items linked to home and garden refurbishment, while television sales also rose ahead of sporting events such as the World Cup.

Diane Wehrle, retail insights director at Springboard, said: “the challenge faced by our retail destinations is continuing, with both a drop in footfall for a second month in a row, and an acceleration in the decline to 0.2 per cent from 0.1 per cent in April. However, the drop is a consequence of high streets and shopping centres losing out to retail parks which are benefiting from the inevitable lure of home products as house prices continue to rise. Indeed, retail parks have recorded increases in footfall in every month this year, which is levelling out at around 3% from last year.

‘’However, it also goes without saying that the month was severely hampered by poor trading performance over the two May bank holiday weekends. Despite fair weather at the beginning of the month the May Spring bank holiday weekend ended with a surprising drop in footfall, and heavy rain hit the UK over the Whitsun Bank Holiday weekend – a key trading time as it coincides with the school half term holiday – which had an adverse impact on activity in retail destinations.

‘’The prevailing cautiousness amongst consumers means that the appeal of the retail park has inevitably had a negative impact on trips to other types of retail destination; alongside increases in footfall in retail parks in every month this year, footfall has dropped in high streets and shopping centres in four of the five months since January.’’

Read More

Register for Newsletter

Group 4 Copy 3Created with Sketch.

Receive 3 newsletters per week

Group 3Created with Sketch.

Gain access to all Top500 research

Group 4Created with Sketch.

Personalise your experience on