Retail footfall across the UK suffered a -6.6% decline in January, compared to the same month in 2017. Footfall was down -27.1% compared to December 2017.
Ipsos Retail Performance, compiles the Retail Traffic Index (RTI), which is derived from the number of individual shoppers entering over 4,000 non-food retail stores across the UK.
The fall in the retail traffic index was most apparent in South East England and London, with footfall figures down almost -12% compared to the same period last January, as shoppers took to on-line bargain hunting rather than to the streets.
In Northern England and Scotland heavy snowfall caused footfall to slump in the second half of the month. Across the board, this is the ninth consecutive month that store footfall has declined compared to the previous year in the UK.
Dr Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence provided the following analysis of footfall and the retail sector one month into 2018:
“At the start of the new year there is always much speculation and anticipation about how busy shops will be. This year was no exception, thanks to fears that Black Friday promotions could impact on the winter Sales, not just pull forward demand from the festive period.
“Retailers reported mixed results on Christmas trading 2017. Whilst fashion brands Primark, Hugo Boss and more recently Joules, have posted positive results, M&S, Tesco and B&Q have all started the year with announcements of job cuts. Sales of high-ticket items have also struggled, strengthening the concern that shoppers would begin the year cautiously.
“This month’s footfall figures confirm that it has been a slow start to the retail year, though the news is diverse across the regions. In the North of England, despite an encouraging start to the month, the later bad weather conditions affected numbers, which slumped to -5.3% compared to January 2017.
“It’s been well documented that market conditions were exceptionally tough last year, and understandably the British public are remaining watchful as we start 2018. This is building an imperative for retailers to review their business models to operate differently in order to survive. Brexit and GDPR add a new frisson to the mix. Hence, announcements about changes at the top of retail businesses, re-shuffles within, CVA rumours, store closure programmes or headcount shrinkage permeate the daily news – all geared at introducing new thinking and tighter cost control to combat weaker demand.”
For a regional breakdown of January footfall across the UK, download our weathermap