UK footfall plummets in October says Ipsos Retail Performance
How bad was UK retail in October? Well, on the footfall front it was very bad indeed. Ipsos Retail Performance’s latest Retail Traffic Index (RTI), released Thursday, showed store visitor traffic dropping 9.1% year-on-year. But was it a sign of worse to come or a one-off blip?
The bleak figure was partly caused by two major storms that hit parts of Britain during the month with the North of England seeing an even worse footfall drop of 12.6%.
And IRP said half-term week, when shopping might have been expected to get a boost, was disappointing with footfall dropping a little short of 13%.
While average retail footfall rose compared to September, the rise was just a tiny 0.3%, which was well short of the 4% to 5% growth that normally happens month-on-month at this time of year.
IRP, which monitors visitors to over 4,000 non-food stores for its tracker, said the figures back up other surveys and retailer reports that show October was weak across the retail sector.
Various data sources are beginning to show a slowdown in consumer spending and while entertainment and leisure pursuits have been hit the hardest, retail is also starting to be impacted, though not as deeply as October’s footfall figures might suggest.
“We expect to see signs of recovery in November’s figures, as the stark deficit this month is not simply down to the weekend storms, but is also symptomatic of shoppers holding back in anticipation of early launches of Black Friday offers,” said Dr Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence at IRP
“Retailers will not welcome this decline in store footfall, but they should treat the size of the downturn as a blip in this year’s figures. The interest rate rise is likely to encourage consumers to make the most of the Black Friday offers, pulling forward some of their Christmas shopping into November – although online and mobile will be the main benefactors of this.
The company is predicting a return to month-on-month growth in November, with footfall levels predicted to rise 1.7% compared October, although they should be down 2.9% compared to last November.
Back with October, while the North of England was clearly a very weak region, the Southwest and Wales also suffered with storms likely playing a part there too. However, Southeast England and London also proved troubled. It saw a 12.6% month-on-month footfall drop and a 2.3% year-on-year dip.
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