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Springboard

Summer retail footfall declines, says BRC

Uk retail footfall declined by 2.9% in June, compared to the same point last year when it declined by 0.9%.

According to the latest British Retail Consortium & Springboard data, on a three-month basis footfall decreased by 2.4%. The six and twelve–month averages are at -1.3% and -1.7% respectively.

Meanwhile, High Street footfall declined by 4.5%, following from the increase of 0.1% in June last year. The three-month average decline is 3.5%.

Retail Park footfall increased by 0.1%, following from June 2018 when footfall decreased by 0.4%. The three-month average growth is 0.5%.

Shopping Centre footfall declined by 2.4%, following June 2018’s decline of 3.4%. The three-month average decline was 2.7%.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief-Executive at the British Retail Consortium, said: “Poor footfall this June led to a significant fall in the sales figures for the month. High streets were worst hit by the relatively poor June weather, with shopping centres also performing badly, however, retail parks managed to buck the trend. Last year’s World Cup and glorious sunshine set a high bar, which 2019’s slow consumer spending and Brexit uncertainty failed to live up to.

“High streets and shopping centres across the country need to invest in improving their consumer experience if they wish to see these footfall numbers reverse. Unfortunately, high business rates, as well as a raft of other public policy costs, mean there is little left over to spend on these improvements. If the Government wants to see more investment on the high street then they must reform the broken business rates system and give firms the means to make the necessary improvements.”

Diane Wehrle, Springboard Marketing and Insights Director, said: “The drop in footfall in June of -2.9% is disappointing; it was much more severe than the -0.9% drop in June last year and takes the rolling three month average to -2.4% versus -1.5% in 2018.

“However, given the exceptional and ongoing disruptive political and economic period we are facing coupled with unprecedented structural changes in the retail sector, we might actually expect consumer activity to have taken an even greater hit.  In reality, the drop in footfall of -1.4% for the year to date is still an improvement on the drop of -2.1% over the same period last year, so in context footfall performance has shown more resilience over the year to date than expected.

“It was clearly high streets and shopping centres that bore the brunt of consumers railing back on their shopping trips, whilst retail parks maintained their customer base.  However, whilst footfall in high streets across the UK dropped by -4.5% in June, the continuing and growing demand from consumers for experience meant that in regional cities – which by virtue of the sheer breadth and depth of their offer means they can deliver on experience – footfall was far more resilient, declining only very marginally by -0.6%. 

“And the same rule of ‘experience delivering results’ also applies for shopping centres.  Whilst footfall in shopping centres across the UK declined by -2.4% in June, in the largest centres of more than half a million sq ft the drop was just -0.5%, and only -0.1% in those largest centres with a strong dining offer.  So it is clear that consumer demand is polarised between convenience and accessibility provided so effectively by retail parks, and consumers’ craving for experience, driving them towards larger retail destinations.”

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Footfall increases in the run up to Christmas, but remains down YoY

Retail footfall is rising from week to week in the run up to Christmas, increasing by +3.1% last week from the week before, according to Springboard.

However, despite being higher week-on-week, footfall is significantly reduced from last year, with an annual decline of -4.5%.

Springboard data says that in High Streets and shopping centres – which make up the majority of destinations – the drop in footfall was even more severe at -5.2%, with a lesser drop of -2.2% in retail parks.

Footfall was down annually on every day last week apart from Sunday, when it rose by a huge +26.3%. However, Springboard says this was in comparison with Sunday last year when the weather was extremely cold with treacherous travelling conditions.

The results are a continuation of the poor performance in November and in the first two weeks of the month, and are a clear indicator that consumers are railing back on spending.

Whilst some of the trips previously made to bricks and mortar stores are likely to have been diverted online, the vast majority of spending remains in store; and so the significant decline in footfall is clear evidence that spending this year is constrained.

This conclusion, says Springboard, is reinforced by the fact that footfall declined in all areas apart from Northern Ireland, and was in excess of -2% in every UK geography and more than -5% in five geographies.

Shopping Mall

Retail Parks see increased footfall, but High Streets & shopping centres down

Latest figures have revealed that total UK shopper footfall dropped by 1.6 per cent year-on-year in January.

The British Retail Consortium & Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor also revealed that all regions saw a drop in footfall in January, with the sharpest declines seen in Scotland (4.6%), the South West (2.6%) and the East (2.5%).

High Street footfall fell by 1.9% in January, a deeper decline than seen the same month a year ago. However, footfall in Retail Parks grew by 0.9%, but Shopping Centre footfall fell by 3.1%.

Meanwhile, the national town centre vacancy rate was 8.9% in January, down from 9.3% in October 2017.

“January painted a picture of divided fortunes with a slight improvement in town vacancy rates but decline in shopper footfall, said the British Retail Consortium’s chief executive Helen Dickinson OBE. “The latter fell in line with the underlying trend of reduced customer activity in shopping destinations, compounded by the squeeze on discretionary spending. Meanwhile retail sales continue to be buoyed by inflation, masking the lack of real growth.

“The more positive picture for vacancy rates over the last quarter is marginal. The Christmas trading period traditionally sees a boost in temporary lets, as landlords get creative with the flexible use of space to create pop-ups. This was particularly evident in London this year due to its denser physical retail offer. The long term trend is that vacancies remain stubbornly at around 9 per cent, albeit much higher in many areas.

“If we look beyond the seasonal distortion, the pressures to rationalise and downsize store portfolios are continuing to build as structural and technological change gains momentum. Given that planning applications for new shops have fallen for the ninth year in a row, the mounting cost of property taxation will inevitably mean more empty shops on the high street.

“Retailing is about digital and face to face interactions with customers and how the different channels complement each other. Having a business tax system that works to support that, not undermine it, is what the country needs and what we remain committed to work in partnership with Government to deliver.”

Diane Wehrle, Springboard Marketing and Insights Director, added: “A drop in footfall of -1.6% is an improvement on December’s -3.5%, but it is the worst result for January since 2013.  So it is clear that the challenges facing bricks and mortar retailing are continuing to build – the -1.9% decline in high street footfall is more than double the -0.8% in January 2017 and shopping centre footfall continues to languish at -3.1% following a drop of -3% in January last year.

“In contrast activity in retail parks continues to grow, with a shift in footfall from -0.4% in January 2017 to +0.9% this January; despite furniture and household appliance sales in January being the worst of all 13 categories.  Retail parks clearly now fulfil a wider role for shoppers; yes, they are convenient and functional shopping locations, but are buoyed by the continuing growth in online spending. Not only are they efficient click and collect points, but their attraction is enhanced by a wider offer, embracing hospitality. Herein lies the lesson for stores in urban locations of high streets and shopping centres; their longevity is contingent upon their ability to embrace all steps of consumers’ path to purchase, which implicitly necessitates a first class click and collect experience.

“Whilst footfall dropped, the vacancy rate strengthened over the quarter to 8.9% from 9.3% in October, but caution is needed in reading too much into this as it reflects short term occupier demand in the lead up to Christmas and is a trend that replicates previous years.”

New figures reveal 2017 retail footfall ends on a slump

New figures compiled by analytics firm Springboard have revealed that retail footfall across the UK decreased by 3.5% year-on-year in December, the steepest decline since March 2013 when footfall declined by 5.2%.

The drop, the steepest decline in almost five years, has been put down to a number of factors, including stagnant wages and a jump in inflation.

“The drop in footfall of -3.3% in the weeks leading up to Christmas provided a heads-up for December, with the final outcome of -3.5% of little surprise,” commented Diane Wehrle, director of marketing and insights at Springboard.

“This is a significant weakening in performance from December 2016 when footfall in retail destinations dropped by just 0.2 per cent.”

Responding to the figures, Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive, British Retail Consortium, said:

“The sharp drop in footfall this December, while sales grew overall, underlines how shopping is being transformed by the shift to online.

“In the past, shoppers would have exclusively visited physical stores to ensure stockings were filled for Christmas. Improved delivery options by both purely digital retailers and those with stores and an online offer mean many purchases of last minute gifts are moving online.

“The squeeze on discretionary spending also contributed to the decline in footfall. Households had to use their money more carefully, researching products online, rather than heading out to stores to browse.

“Retail parks fared slightly better than high streets by providing Christmas shoppers with the draw and convenience of parking, easy click-and-collect, and leisure facilities.”

Shopping

BRC: Shopper visits through March 2017 a “reassuring sign for retailers”

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and retail intelligence specialists Springboard have released figures covering the five weeks 26th February – 1st April, showing retail footfall in March grew 1.3% on the previous year, the fastest growth since 2014.

The figure was above the three-month average of -0.2%, although March 2016 included Easter Sunday when many retailers were closed, while the 2017 figure does not and effectively adds one more day’s footfall to the period.

The high street saw the greatest percentage of footfall growth: 1.7%, followed by retail parks at 1.4% and shopping centres at 0.2%. The steepest decline in footfall occurred in Northern Ireland, which fell by 3.7%, followed by the South West at 2.3%.

“Shopper visits increased to all retail destinations in March, resulting in the fastest annual growth in footfall for three years,” commented Helen Dickinson, OBE, chief executive BRC. “This is partly owed to the exclusion of Easter Sunday from the period, which therefore benefits from an additional shopping day. But even looking beyond the distortion, the positive growth across most of the country is a reassuring sign for retailers.

“The high street continues to outperform shopping centres and retail parks, for the second consecutive month. Disappointingly though, this didn’t translate into retail sales, which were down in March on the previous year. Now that the Easter holidays have arrived, the challenge for retailers will be to attract this greater number of high street visitors into their stores.”

Diane Wehrle, Marketing and insights director, Springboard, added: “March definitely provided a break in the clouds, with the +1.3% rise in footfall breaking a six-month consecutive decline and the +0.2% increase in footfall in shopping centres being the first since January 2016. Whilst some of the +1.3% may have been a consequence of the loss of a trading day last year due to an early Easter, the impact of this shift should not be overstated as it will have been mitigated by increased trade on the other days over the Easter trading period.

“Indeed, if anything it is more evidence of the continuing structural shift in the use of retail destinations for leisure and hospitality trips. Virtually all of the increase in footfall in March was derived from the post 5pm period while footfall during the trading hours of 9am to 5pm dropped –by just -0.5% in high streets, but much more significantly, by -7.1%, in shopping centres. Indeed, the worsening of consumer confidence and inflation from last year is likely to be constraining shoppers’ willingness to spend on retail goods. This all lends further evidence to the fact that retail is no longer the sole driver of footfall, with a strong leisure/hospitality offer being a critical element to secure retail success.”

www.brc.org.uk