Belfast Telegraph

Wet weather and Brexit contribute to decline in shopping data

The number of shoppers on the country's streets saw the sharpest fall in more than two years in June, as the economic uncertainty surrounding the EU referendum vote and the wet weather took its toll.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC)/Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor said total UK retail footfall was down by 2.8% in June on a year ago, marking the biggest decline since February 2014.

The report said footfall had been rising at the start of June - but in the week of the referendum and afterwards footfall declined as consumer confidence was hit - despite retailers offering discounts in early season sales.

Footfall in retail parks fell by 1% year-on-year, following a 1% increase in May. It marks the first decline in footfall in retail parks since December 2013 and the deepest decline for this sector since November 2013.

High street footfall was down by 3.7% year-on-year in June, while footfall in shopping centres fell by 2.3% over the same period.

The latest report covers footfall between May 29 and July 2.

Looking across the country, Wales, which has been celebrating its heroic run in Euro 2016, was the best-performing area for footfall in June.

Wales was the only nation or region to record a year-on-year increase in footfall, with a 0.9% uplift - compared with the UK average fall of 2.8%. It marked the best footfall performance in Wales since July 2013.

The West Midlands and Greater London saw the sharpest year-on-year falls in footfall, with declines of 5.1% and 3.6% respectively.

In Scotland, footfall was down by 3.3% on a year ago, and in Northern Ireland footfall declined by 2.5% over the same period.

Last week, data from Barclaycard found that consumers' spending had increased in the week after the EU referendum - but there were signs of shoppers adopting a more cautious mind-set when it comes to discretionary spending.

The Barclaycard report found that s pending in pubs and restaurants, which traditionally see sharp growth at the end of the month when many people get their pay packets, fell back in the seven days starting on June 24.

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard, said: "With such major political and economic news in June, it is unsurprising that there was drop in footfall of 2.8% across the UK in June, the poorest monthly result for more than two years and a marked worsening of performance since May when footfall rose slightly by 0.3%.

"The results are shaped by a political and economic storm against a backdrop of rain downpours and generally inclement weather throughout the whole month.

"Footfall deteriorated from a 0.4% rise in the first week of June to a 4.6% drop during the week of the referendum and a 3.4% drop in the weeks following, as consumer confidence was hit, despite retailers discounting throughout the period in early season sales.

"In the last three weeks of the month, the drop in footfall averaged 4.1% compared with just minus 0.9% in the same weeks last year.

"Whilst the cooler more rainy weather than last year will explain some of this degradation in performance, it is unlikely that it will have accounted for all the 5% drop in footfall of across UK destinations in the seven days post the referendum."

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: " June has seen many distractions from Euro 2016 to Wimbledon so heading out to the shops seems to have slipped down the priority list for many. In the coming months we all must redouble our efforts to remind customers that now is a great time to get out into their local communities."

She continued: " The EU referendum will not have changed the in-store experience for customers and, crucially, the price of goods on the shelves. Now is a great time for shoppers as the summer sales begin in earnest following on from a record 38 months of falling shop prices."