Retail footfall growth tempered by cautious shoppers

Ipsos Retail Performance has released its latest monthly report forecasting footfall in UK retail environments, tracking the changes from April to May across the regions of the UK

Retailers across the country have been breathing a collective sigh of relief as footfall in April finally returned to double-digit growth following a poor start to the year.

The Easter bank holiday fuelled a rise in the number of people going to non-food stores, according to Ipsos Retail Performance’s latest Retail Traffic Index (RTI).

Figures from the global retail and footfall consultant show that the sector rallied after a dismal performance in March. The North of England led the way with +14.5% on average weekly footfall in March. Overall store visits were up +2.7% against April 2016 when Easter fell in the previous month.

But when calculated over two months, to alleviate the impact of Easter’s change in timing, average weekly footfall was down -3.1% compared to last year. The Easter bank holiday weekend also saw a -4% drop on 2016 across retail as a whole, though positive growth was seen in some sectors, most notably the DIY and homeware sector (+9.0%).

Regionally, South West England & Wales and Northern England were hit hardest as footfall deteriorated by -8.0% and -6.3% respectively over March and April against the same period last year.

Dr Tim Denison, Director of Retail intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance, said:

“With two months of data, we can get a more balanced perspective of how store footfall is performing. Even though we have seen a three per cent drop on last year, this is more than made up for by online growth.

“If consumers are beginning to moderate their shopping, the speed of change is a marathon rather than a sprint. Unquestionably, the pressures on spending and budgets look set to build – but retail is not likely to be the main target for downshifting spending, leisure pursuits are at more immediate risk.

“The fall in official retail sales in Quarter 1 signaled the end of a three-year period of growing consumer spend, but this may have been called a bit prematurely. Even though real wages are coming under fire from rising inflation, there is a counter-balance from near full employment and a skills shortage.”

By Dr Tim Denison, Director of Retail intelligence
Ipsos Retail Performance
May 25th, 2017|