London stores stay strong as UK retail dips

FOOTFALL in the UK’s shops fell by 0.7 per cent between May 2012 and May 2013, according to figures released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard today.

London beats trend of dwindling footfall Shopping centres have suffered most of all over the last year, with a 1.7 per cent fall in the number of shoppers.

London and Scotland significantly outperformed the rest of the country in the same period, with footfall increasing by 2.6 per cent and three per cent respectively.

A spokesman for the BRC said that Scotland had seen less unseasonable weather during May, which helped to boost sales. Scottish retail was boosted from a reduced base after previous declines in activity.

The east of England also recorded a small positive boost of 0.2 per cent, while every other region saw a decline in activity.

“Footfall across all retail locations in the past few months has definitely been proving to be very volatile, particularly in high streets, which fell by seven per cent in march, rising by 3.4 per cent in April and declining by one per cent in May,” said Diane Wehrle, retail insights director at Springboard.

High streets have significantly outperformed shopping centres in the year so far, with a better performance in four of the five months to May.

“Town centres benefit from greater diversity than the majority of shopping centres, and the evening economy is clearly protecting and insulating the high street,” said Wehrle.

The release suggested that larger regional cities were seeing improvements in footfall, whereas smaller towns were suffering most acutely, demonstrating that consumers are willing to travel to larger shopping centres and high streets.

Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC, suggested that there were some less gloomy elements to be found in the data. “The month’s respectable sales growth suggests that conversion rates were good: people made fewer trips but responded well to good deals, especially on value ranges and seasonal promotions”.