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Promising Signs of Improvement Emerge on UK High Streets

    • Footfall on May Day bank holiday (6th May) helped contribute to the strong month with the number of shoppers up by +8.4% on levels last year.
    • Retail footfall held up well in May, falling by only -2.3% against the same month last year, stronger than the surprise -2.9% drop in April.
    • The three-month average of -1.2% is the narrowest gap in year-on-year footfall levels since April-June 2017.
    • The -0.8% decline in average weekly traffic compared to April denotes the best May performance for 4 years.

    Commenting on the latest figures, Dr. Tim Denison, Director of Retail Intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance said:

    “All in all, consumers seem to be defying all the uncertainty around Brexit. They aren’t feeling the pinch financially, so why wouldn’t they carry on regardless. The current strength of real earnings growth, consumer confidence and employment underpin the relative improvement in footfall figures.

    “That said, retailers continue to make the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The cost and margin pressures that retailers are under threaten their commercial viability. Yet more major brands – Arcadia, M&S, Monsoon and Select – have all hit choppy waters last month. The sticky trading conditions are exposing poor strategic decisions of the past.

    “With store footfall showing signs of improving, retailers would do well to start deploying strategies to wean consumers off the discount diet that they have been fed for so long. In the long run, no-one benefits from window-to-window 70% reduction posters along the high street.

    June’s footfall will give us a better steer as to whether retail footfall is genuinely beginning to pull out of its nose dive, assuming that economic conditions continue to remain placid for consumers. We live in hope.”

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