- Footfall in non-food retail stores was better than expected in August. Against the same month in 2017 the Retail Traffic Index showed a decline of -4.1% and average weekly growth over the previous month, July, of +0.9%
- This was the narrowest gap of the year so far and well ahead of the YTD deficit to end of July of -9.3%.
- Weekly footfall was sustained across the whole month, every week being within 1% of all other weeks.
- The most disappointing figures came for stores in SW England and Wales, where footfall was down -9.3%, at a time when summer holidays were at their peak.
“The improvement in footfall has come out of the blue,” commented Dr Tim Denison, Director of Retail Intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance. “This year the gap in non-food store footfall against last year has been no better than -6.6%. The August deficit of -4.1% is back to the run rate of 2017. It indicates that demand was strong for many ‘Back to School’ campaigns, but whether the uplift was simply a summer sojourn or part of something more substantive it is too early to say. The economic horizon remains pretty dark with real wages barely seeing any growth and the uncertainty brought about from the possibility of a Brexit ‘no deal’ growing as the clock ticks down.
“Retailers will have one eye on ongoing demand, but the other one is now looking at contingency planning – another exceptional cost in the offing, right on the heels of GDPR. For decades retailers have been working to streamline logistics, reduce stock levels and deliver fast fashion. All of that and more would be in jeopardy if a frictionless trade deal is not negotiated soon, and that would be to the detriment of retailer and shopper alike”, warns Denison.