UK: ‘All to play for’ on the high street, according to latest BRC/Springboard Footfall Monitor

Last month saw no improvement in footfall, according to the latest BRC/Springboard Footfall Monitor,

Last month saw no improvement in footfall, according to the latest BRC/Springboard Footfall Monitor, with numbers unchanged compared with October and down 2.9% on November 2012. - Credit: PA

Britain’s retailers will be pinning their hopes on a busy time in the final weeks before Christmas after data showing that November failed to produce any increase in footfall across the nation’s high streets and shopping centres.

Overall footfall last month was unchanged compared with October and 2.9% lower than in November 2012, according to the latest British Retail Consortium/Springboard Footfall Monitor.

High streets saw a 4.2% fall year-on-year, with footfall in out-of-town retail areas 2.1% down and numbers in shopping centres 1.0% lower.

All UK nations and regions saw a fall in footfall overall, although the East of England performed better than any other part of the country with a decline of just 0.5%. The North, with a fall of 1.8%, and Greater London, down 2.7%. were the only other regions to beat the national average.

The figures confirm that, despite growing evidence of the economic recovery taking root, consumer’s budgets remain under pressure, with inflation continuing to outstrip pay increases.

Helen Dickinson, director general at the BRC, said: “This figure is in line with October, and tallies with recent signs in our sales data that festive spending has got off to a slow but steady start.

“While some areas saw an improvement in footfall compared against the previous month, numbers were negative across the board, strengthening the sense that many of us were holding off on major shopping trips until December ushered in the final countdown to Christmas.”

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However, she added: “These figures may seem subdued, but factors like enhanced multichannel offers and Christmas day falling on Wednesday this year are changing customer habits and giving people the confidence to leave much of their spending until later.

“Clearly there’s still all to play for: footfall has been building since the end of November and I expect this to continue now that we’re less than a fortnight away from the big day.”

Diane Wehrle, retail insights director at Springboard, was more cautious in her assessment. “The 2.9% drop in footfall in November is disappointing and suggests that Christmas trading could be challenging if December 2012 is anything to go by when a 0.4% increase in November 2012 preceded a drop in footfall of 1.2%,” she said. “And the last time footfall dropped by a similar magnitude in the build up to Christmas, 2.8% in November 2010, it was then followed by a decline in footfall of 8.8% in December due to major snowfall.”