Footfall in May slumps to worst in six years

Footfall at shopping destinations across Yorkshire and the rest of the UK plummeted last month. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Footfall at shopping destinations across Yorkshire and the rest of the UK plummeted last month. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
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Footfall at Yorkshire’s shopping destinations plummeted last month, making it the weakest May for six years as retailers struggled to attract visitors in the tepid weather.

According to the BRC-Springboard monitor, footfall in the North of England, including Yorkshire, was down 3.9 per cent last month, just below the 3.5 per cent national average decline.

The figures, which cover the four weeks from April 28 to May 25, 2019, show that footfall declined across every region of the UK.

The most severe drop was seen on the high street, with visits down by 4.8 per cent nationally.

Retail park footfall was down 0.8 per cent, while shopping centres saw a decline of 3.6 per cent.

Poor weather was blamed for the change, after last year’s favourable conditions kept shoppers going back to the high street.

Helen Dickinson, chief-executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Yorkshire experienced its worst footfall figures in over three years, with declines in every region, and across high streets and shopping centres, though retail parks were up slightly.

“The overall picture reflects our recent UK sales data, which showed the largest drop in retail sale on record.

“The colder weather, as well as ongoing political and economic uncertainty, made many consumers think twice before heading out to the shops this May.”

She added: “While consumers stayed away from the shops
this May, retailers still had to pay the full cost of business rates, which are levied regardless of whether a store makes a penny at the till.

“These rising costs are making many retailers rethink investment decisions, as well as contributing to store closures up and down the country.”

Diane Wehrle, Springboard’s marketing and insights director, added: “All destination types found it much tougher this May to attract customers, but the fact that the greatest impact was felt by high streets with a drop in footfall of 4.8 per cent is not a surprise given the much poorer weather than in May last year.”

Nights were especially poor for high streets, with footfall down 5.4 per cent in the evening and seven per cent at night as consumers were less inclined to go out for food and drink in the colder weather.

This compared with a 1.9 per cent rise in the previous year.

Ms Wehrle said: “It is clear that consumers are being ever more discerning in their dining habits, and recent failures in the sector indicate both the level of competition and suggests that the everyday dining operators need to provide a more tempting food offer keep customers for the post-5pm spend slot.”

It comes just a few days after figures from BDO showed that high street sales suffered their worst May on record last month, with especially steep declines in lifestyle and fashion purchases.

The British Retail Consortium also warned last week that the retail sector had been hit by its biggest slump on record in May.