- Retail footfall drops 0.9% in September
- Shopping centres hit hardest, as shopper numbers fall 2.5%
- Footfall slips 0.5% in high street locations
- Retail parks perform best with shopper numbers flat during the month
Shopping centres lost customers at a faster rate than high streets in September as overall retail footfall dropped 0.9% during the month.
Traffic to UK shopping centres slumped 2.5% in the five weeks to October 1, according to the latest BRC-Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor.
Footfall in high streets also decreased, but at the slower rate of 0.5% as shoppers took advantage of a warm September and opted for outdoor retail destinations.
Retail Parks proved the main beneficiary of that trend as the only locations not to register a drop-off in shopper numbers, with footfall remaining flat.
However, the lack of growth at retail parks means shopper numbers have increased at an average of 1.2% per month so far this year – down from 2.2% a year ago.
The West Midlands was the worst-affected region of the UK, where shopper numbers nosedived 5%.
Traffic fell 2% in Greater London and 1.8% in the South East.
The South West was the only region in England to register an increase in footfall, where it edged up 0.2%.
Wales enjoyed a 4.1% uplift in shopper numbers, but Scotland and Northern Ireland registered decreases of 0.3% and 3.3% respectively.
Despite the drop in footfall, BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson pointed to the positive news that UK retail spending grew 1.3% in September.
She said: “This is a function of the changing face of retail and the hard work and innovation of British retail businesses who are responding brilliantly to technological advances and changing consumer habits.”
Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle said the decline in footfall at shopping centres was “not just a one off” sparked by warmer weather.
Wehrle said: “The issue for shopping centres could be that many have lacked the investment required to maintain their appeal for shoppers whose standards and expectations have risen.”
She added: “Moving forward into what should be the most lucrative trading period of the year, despite the challenges of a weaker pound and living wage costs, it is critical that staffing remains strong to deliver the level of customer service required to ensure retail destinations offer a quality customer experience.”