High street footfall drops again in September amid consumer slowdown

Footfall on the high street declined again in September as shoppers continued to face pressure on their wallets.

Visits to the UK’s shopping hubs were down by 1.7% overall compared to the previous year, according to Springboard.

The high street saw a drop of 2.2% after a mixed summer in which shoppers flocked to stock up on barbecue staples in June but were kept at home by the heat in July and August.

Footfall in shopping centres was down 2.4%, marking the 18th consecutive month of decline.

Retail parks continued to be the only area to attract more visitors, but growth slowed to 0.1% compared to 0.3% in August.

The figures come amid several indicators that consumer spending is under pressure.

Diane Wehrle, Springboard’s marketing and insights director, said: “With the growth in non-food online sales in September of 5.4% being the lowest since January and just half what it was in September 2017, combined with the highest level consumer credit for five years, a recent increase in inflation, a 20% drop in new car sales which is the worst since 2008, and the rise in house prices only a half what it was a year ago, all indicators point to the fact that footfall is simply reflecting the underlying constraints on consumer spend generally.”

No region experienced footfall growth in September.

Some of the worst-hit areas were the East of England and Wales, with 5.3% and 5.5% declines respectively.

Northern Ireland was also among the worst-performing regions for high street and retail park footfall.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said that the government should reform the tax system to ease the burden on retailers.

“This month’s footfall figures are yet further demonstration of the increasingly difficult operating environment British retailers are facing,” she said.

“And yet, the country’s largest private sector employer is not seeing any action from Government to help.”