UK shopper footfall records encouraging improvement

·2-min read
Shoppers (Philip Toscano/PA) (PA Wire)
Shoppers (Philip Toscano/PA) (PA Wire)

April saw another encouraging improvement to UK shopper footfall as the spring sunshine and Easter festivities brought consumers back to stores.

Total UK footfall was down 13.1% last month on pre-pandemic April 2019, a 2.3 percentage point improvement from March, according to BRC-Sensormatic IQ data.

Footfall on high streets was down 17.2%, 0.6 percentage points better than March, while retail parks and shopping centres were 3.3 and 8.2 percentage points higher respectively.

British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “After a slow start for footfall in April, as the weather improved, customers were more inclined to visit their favourite shopping destinations.

“Retail parks and shopping centres experienced the biggest improvement to footfall, as the public visited locations with the largest mix of shops to scope out the best deals.”

Ms Dickinson added, however, that consumer confidence saw a different trend, falling to its lowest levels since the 2008 financial crisis.

“Shoppers are now being forced to make tough decisions in the face of rising inflation and higher energy prices, exacerbated further by the war in Ukraine.

“This threatens to stall improvements to footfall, as consumers reign in their discretionary spending.

Retailers will have to work twice as hard to sustain customer loyalty and engagement,” she said.

Meanwhile, accountancy firm BDO’s High Street Sales Tracker found the retail sector’s strong start to 2022 has started to falter, with like-for-like sales growth significantly slowing in the second half of April.

Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO LLP, said: “Consumer confidence is lower than at any point since the financial crash in 2008 so, when combined with high inflation, it’s no surprise to see growth trending downwards.

“The barely noticeable growth in online sales is another indicator that discretionary spending is slowing down.

“This volatility in consumer demand comes at a time when retailers’ supply chains are more stretched and difficult to manage than ever.

“They will need to maintain the flexibility and resilience they demonstrated throughout the pandemic if they are to meet customer expectations and maximise their sales.”

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