High street footfall was down 2% in May

High street footfall was down 2% in May

UK retail footfall lost its momentum in May, falling year-on-year as poor weather at the beginning of the month kept people indoors.

The latest BRC/Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor found shopper numbers were down 1% on a year ago, following two months of consecutive growth. The result comes in below the three month average of 0.7%, and is also the first decline since February.

Retail parks reported 1.5% growth in May, compared to a 2.1% decrease in the year-ago period. This comes after a 2.7% rise in April and is below the three-month average of 1.8%. High street footfall, meanwhile, was down 2%, the first decline since January, and well below the three-month average of 0.8%. Shopping centre footfall was down 1.3%.

Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director, says May was clearly a month of moderation for UK shoppers, with the drop in footfall mirroring a 3.7% drop in UK sales as measured by Springboard's sales index – with fashion spend in particular dipping in May.

"These are clear signals that consumers have started to display greater spending restraint. Whilst May's footfall decline didn't show a dramatic drop overall, the result for high streets was the worst result since June 2016 when high street footfall declined by -3.7% in the wake of the EU Referendum.

"However, April's results were boosted by the shift in Easter from March in 2016 to April this year, so it is unsurprising that there was a downward shift in footfall from last month, particularly as UK consumers could feel additionally cautious in the lead up to the General Election."

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, adds: "In an uncertain economic climate, retailers will be looking to the next Government to deliver on their commitment to fundamental reform of business rates; to implement a more sustainable system that allows for growth and investment."