Shoppers beat the Brexit blues to hit the high street as footfall increased slightly in May

Helen Cahill
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High Streets Prepare For Last Minute Surge Of Christmas Shoppers
Analysts are being cautious about the figures (Source: Getty)

As the battle over the fate of BHS continues, the high street bounced back slightly in May as footfall figures increased year-on-year, new figures have shown.

Despite a backdrop of retail failures towards the end of May and beginning of June, with Austin Reed shutting up its shops and BHS being "wound down", total retail footfall was up 0.3 per cent, according to the research, by Springboard.

Read more: Austin Reed employees found out about store closures through social media

High street footfall was up 1.1 per cent year-on-year, and retail park footfall increased by 1.2 per cent. However, buyers shunned shopping centres, where footfall was down by 2.1 per cent.

Retailers have complained uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the EU referendum has knocked consumer confidence, complicating an already difficult period for the sector.

Analysts were cautious to herald the news as a sign of recovery for the high-street, however, as there was a 1.7 per cent decline in footfall in May on a three-month basis.

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Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard, said: "May's modest increase in UK footfall of 0.3 per cent, whilst in sharp contrast to the February to April footfall decline of 2.1 per cent, does not necessarily mark the start of a positive trend just yet.

"The figures show the month's footfall increase emanated from a 4.7 per cent rise in the first week of the month stimulated by the May bank holiday weekend. For the rest of the month, footfall dropped by an average of 1.1 per cent in the remaining three weeks."

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Wehrle added that the figures represent the 14th time over the last six years that footfall has risen. During this period footfall has increased in two consecutive months only twice.

"We would need to see at least a three-month increase in footfall to indicate the upward trend spells anything more than a break in the clouds," Wehrle said.