Pace of retail footfall recovery slows in August as retailers look to autumn with ‘air of caution’
The recovery of retail footfall slowed last month as the cost of living crisis caused shoppers to steer clear of spending splurges.
Although footfall at retail destinations in the UK continued to slowly climb back towards pre-Covid levels, the pace of improvement slowed, according to the latest data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Sensormatic IQ.
Overall footfall for retail destinations was down 12.4 per cent compared to pre-Covid levels, an improvement of just 1.8 percentage points from July. This was worse than the three month average decline of 12.3 per cent.
Brits are facing hefty increases to energy bills as other household costs, including groceries and fuel, also shoot up.
“Many people remain concerned about the rising cost-of-living and the price of their energy bills, which has kept them away from visiting high streets and town centres,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson, said.
High street footfall was down 13.6 per cent last month, compared to the same period three years ago. This was an improvement on the three month average decline of 14.5 per cent.
Shopping centre crowds were down some 22.7 per cent versus pre-Covid levels, an improvement of 2.1 percentage points vs July’s rate.
However, crowd-drawing events such as the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and the Edinburgh Fringe helped boost city footfall.
Andy Sumpter, retail consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, was upbeat about the figures, dubbing them as “resilient” with improvements against pre-Covid levels compared to July.
Staycations and a return of international tourists had helped to boost footfall, despite the heatwave and railway industrial action “cooling shopper numbers for periods during the month,” Sumpter said.
However, retailers would be looking to the looming colder months with “an air of caution”, Sumpter added.
Retailers were awaiting news of support packages for consumers to “ease the burden on household budgets,” after a new Prime Minister is announced next week, he said.