Poor weather and “shopper restraint” caused overall shopper numbers to fall 1% year-on-year in May – marking the first decline since February.
After several months of growth, footfall on the high street declined 2% in the four weeks to May 30, according to figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard.
This is the steepest decline on the high street since June last year, when footfall declined 3.7% in the wake of the EU Referendum.
Footfall also dropped at shopping centres during the period. The decline of 1.3% is below the three-month average of -0.5%.
There was a slowdown in growth in footfall after 5pm to 1.1% in May from 3.5% in May 2016, which Springboard marketing and insights and director Diane Wehrle said was “a concern for retail locations that have focused on expanding their food offer to grow shopper dwell time”.
Meanwhile, shopper numbers at retail park destinations grew 1.5%, which is below the three-month average growth rate of 1.8%.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “After the Easter boost in shopper numbers to retail destinations, footfall fell in May, which was mirrored in the month’s sales performance.
“But it wasn’t just shops that suffered; poor weather at the beginning of the month kept people indoors and made it a poor month for footfall in general with fewer people out and about.”
Wehrle added: “These are clear signals that consumers have started to display greater spending restraint.
“However, April’s results were boosted by the shift in Easter from March in 2016 to April this year, so it is unsurprising that there was a downward shift in footfall from last month, particularly as UK consumers could feel additionally cautious in the lead up to the General Election.”
Looking ahead, Dickinson said: “In an uncertain economic climate, retailers will be looking to the next Government to deliver on their commitment to fundamental reform of business rates; to implement a more sustainable system that allows for growth and investment.”