Retail parks saw a boost in visitor numbers last month, even as footfall across all UK shopping destinations fell for the first time since February.
The latest figures from Springboard show that total footfall declined one per cent in May compared to the same period last year, with the high street experiencing its steepest decline since last June.
High street footfall fell by 2 per cent, following several months of growth earlier this year. Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, blamed the decline on a combination of post-Easter slowdown and the weather.
But visitors to retail parks grew by 1.5 per cent, in line with the three-month average of 1.8 per cent. Meanwhile shopping centres saw footfall decline by 1.3 per cent, performing below the three month average of a 0.5 per cent decline.
Diane Wehrle, Springboard's marketing and insights director, said the figures suggested increased caution among consumers, partially in response to the run-up to the general election. She said that "fewer shoppers opted to stay longer and eat out after their shopping trips; a concern for retail locations that have focussed on expanding their food offer to grow shopper dwell time."
She added: "The drop in footfall was mirrored by a drop of 3.7 per cent in UK sales as measured by Springboard's sales index which tracks sales in bricks and mortar stores – with fashion spend in particular dipping in May. These are clear signals that consumers have started to display greater spending restraint."