Oct 24, 2022
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Worried consumers rein in store visits, footfall drops

Oct 24, 2022

As the economic and political news got worse last week, consumers seemed to go into a slight shutdown mode and this meant that footfall struggled during the seven days, two reports showed on Monday.

Photo: Sandra Halliday

The latest Ipsos Retail Traffic Index showed that across the UK, footfall was down 17.1% compared to the pre-pandemic (2019) period in the non-food sector. It was also down by 4.4% compared to the previous week. 

On those two measures, cities were down by 18.7% and 6.8%, while towns fell 13.5% and 2.9%. High Street traffic dropped 15% and 5.4%, with retail parks down 15.8% and 1.1% and shopping centres down 18% and 4.2%.

No geographical region of the UK saw an increase either on the three-year comparison or compared to the previous week.

The bleak numbers were echoed by the latest report from another tracker, Springboard. Based on a slightly different set of metrics, it said footfall declined by 2.3% compared to the previous week with a 3.3% high street drop, a 1.5% retail parks drop and a dip of 0.7% in shopping centres.

And although it provided a figure that showed current footfall remains ahead of this time last year, the uplift narrowed to 5.9% from 6.7% a week earlier.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard, said: “There are several factors at play in terms of what is driving consumer activity; however, the most evident is the squeeze on household incomes as a consequence of inflation and increased mortgage rates. This, mixed in with the current political uncertainty, inevitably makes consumers cautious”.  

But there was one factor that could mean the dip last week wasn't quite as bad as it seemed. She added that the issue is likely to have been compounded by the prospect of school half-term this week, which may well have meant that shoppers deferred trips last week. Footfall typically rises in the week of half-term as families visit retail destinations for group shopping trips and days out, so footfall this week will be a good barometer of current consumer sentiment and behaviour.

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