Footfall in September was 0.9% down on a year ago, up on the 1.1% fall in August and in line with the three-month average of a 0.9% decline, reports the latest BRC-Springboard Footfall Monitor. Out-of-town reported the only rise – 0.5% higher than a year ago – while footfall on the high street was down 0.6% on the previous year.
Footfall in shopping centres was 2.6% down on the previous year for September, the deepest decline since October 2013. All regions and countries with the exception of the South East (1.4%), Northern Ireland (0.2%) and Scotland (2.0%) reported declining footfall.
"Demand for big-ticket items continues to be strong, with furniture outperforming all other categories"
Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium director general, says: "September’s footfall figures are a bit of a mixed bag. Out-of-town footfall continues to grow compared to last year which shows that consumers are increasingly confident. Demand for big-ticket items continues to be strong, with furniture outperforming all other categories. The South East also fared well, showing growth in footfall for September of 1.4%, which is in contrast to the slight decreases in footfall across the other English regions overall. To look at the figures initially they seem slightly gloomier than they actually are. Despite a dip for the month of 0.9%, largely due to less visits to indoor shopping centres, footfall was up on the 1.1% fall for August which shows that it is going in the right direction.
"As online sales increase overall we can see how shopping is changing and retailers are adapting. The industry is working hard on providing great online shopping experiences for consumers and this too impacts footfall. However, with Christmas fast approaching footfall is only set to increase on the high street, out-of-town and in shopping centres."
Diane Wehrle, Retail Insights Director at Springboard, adds: "The UK result for September belies the impact on footfall of the unusually warm weather. The drop in footfall of 0.9% is modest and better than the drop of 1.1% recorded in August, however, if the weather had been more akin to the norm for this time of year it is likely the result would have been far more favourable. Being dominated by fashion – and the fact that it was fashion sales that were the hardest hit - it is not surprising that the greatest toll is on shopping centres, although the degree of increase in footfall in out-of-town locations that we have come to expect is also greatly reduced.
"Whilst out of town locations still recorded a positive result in September - reflecting the positive sales in furniture and household goods - the fact that the increase in footfall is by far the most modest of any month in 2014 suggests this channel has felt the impact of the poor performance in fashion - a strong indicator that their success now also hinges on this sector."