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Retail Footfall Plummets As Autumn Begins

Footfall in non-food stores fell by 9.9% year-on-year in September according to the Retail Traffic Index published by Ipsos Retail Performance.

● The quarter closed down -7.9% on Q3 2018, significantly worse than the -3.1% deficit of Quarter 2 earlier this year.

● Compared to August 2019, average weekly footfall in the month fell by -7.3%.

● Numbers in London & the South East continued to plummet, with footfall down -15.5% on the same time last year and -13.5% for the quarter.

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

“These disappointing figures come on the back of an unexpectedly quiet August in which sales were flat and online sales contracted. They are all the more startling given the latest retail price data published by the BRC and Nielsen, which show that non-food price deflation was at its highest since May 2018.

“Despite seasonal sales and promotional offers, consumer demand for retail goods has taken a dive for the worse over the last couple of months.

“In the run up to peak trading, the wobble in demand couldn’t be more ill-timed for the sector. The key question is ‘what are the main drivers behind the fall in shoppers?’ If households are bracing themselves for Brexit and are unsettled by the political and economic confusion,, then demand could recover quite quickly.

“If, however, the reasons revolve more around households choosing to put their discretionary spend to other uses, the outlook for the golden quarter would be more serious. Even a reduction in the base rate may not provide respite, were this to be a key driver. The one indisputable pressure on retailers is that the squeeze on margins is relentless and without any signs of relief.”