Monday 10 June 2019 7:00 am

High street retailers take hit from drop in footfall

High streets, retail parks and shopping centres all suffered a year-on-year drop in footfall last month, according to new figures which underline the tough trading conditions facing bricks and mortar firms.

The number of shoppers plunged by 3.5 per cent in May, compared with a drop of 0.4 per cent during the same month last year, when hot weather, the World Cup and a Royal Wedding boosted retailers ahead of the summer selling season.

The data, produced by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard, also showed that footfall decreased by 0.7 per cent on a three-month basis. Helen Dickinson chief executive of the BRC, said: “The colder weather, as well as ongoing political and economic uncertainty, made many consumers think twice before heading out to the shops this May.”

Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director, said: “We should note the year on year comparisons are off the back of a particularly strong result in May last year of -0.4 per cent which was boosted by warm weather and special events and followed on from a challenging April marred by bad weather and loss of seasonal sales due to the early March Easter.

All destination types found it much tougher this May to attract customers, but the fact that the greatest impact was felt by high streets with a drop in footfall of -4.8 per cent is not a surprise given the much poorer weather than in May last year.”

The data comes as Sir Philip Green’s retail empire faces a crunch vote this week, when creditors decide whether or not to approve a controversial insolvency process. On Wednesday landlords will vote on Green’s plans for a major cost-cutting plan called a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), which would involve brands at his Arcadia group slashing many of their rent bills.

Last week the tycoon made a dramatic last-minute bid to stall the collapse of his retail empire by delaying the final decision from creditors on whether to give the go-ahead to a CVA, as landlords wavered in their support for the major restructuring effort.

In the run-up to this week’s vote, Green has agreed to revise down his rent reduction demands for landlords in a bid to pass through the CVA, which requires 75 per cent approval from creditors. The cost of the amendment is set to be funded by Tina Green, Philip Green’s wife and owner of Arcadia, at a cost of roughly £9.5m.