Belfast Telegraph

Worst decline for UK shop footfall in 13 years

By Josie Clarke

Footfall on the UK high street has seen its biggest month-on-month drop since 2004, figures show.

Retailers suffered a 12.5% drop in footfall between January and last month.

Shopper numbers in February were 6.5% lower than the same time last year, according to the Ipsos Retail Performance Retail Traffic Index (RTI). The RTI recorded poor performance right across the country, with footfall declining month-on-month and year-on-year in every region for the first time since September 2016.

Dr Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance, said: "For what is often considered the most depressing month of the year, these footfall figures will do very little to raise the spirits of retailers.

"Throughout 2016 the economy was strengthened by consumer spending. The question on every retailer's lips should be how long this continues to be the GDP's mainstay.

"Rising inflation propelled by higher food and energy prices in tandem with static wage growth will at some point no doubt hit retail sales and footfall."

The index is based on the number of individual shoppers entering more than 4,000 non-food retail stores across the UK. The north of England suffered the biggest drop in year-on-year footfall at 8.9%, while south-east England and London recorded the largest monthly drop at 16.2%.

Dr Denison said: "Consumers are still spending money at the tills, except people may be dipping into their savings and extending credit to fund their existing lifestyles, so we shouldn't expect sales to fall of a cliff in the imminent future. Footfall figures are oscillating month on month, and it is difficult to conclude any underlying trend of where it is headed.

"Until this is determined, we should not jump to any drastic conclusions.

"It's likely that the knock-on effect of a slowing economy will trickle down to the shop tills in a transient way, and is unlikely to manifest itself until the second half of the year."

Belfast Telegraph