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Rise in footfall breaks through clouds hanging over UK high streets and retail parks

By Vivian Hendriksz


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A slight rise in footfall during the month of May has been hailed a temporary break through the clouds, as visitor numbers increased 0.3 percent year on year last month.

High streets and retail parks alike enjoyed a boost in visitor footfall in May, driven by the three day bank holiday weekends, according to the latest data from the BRC-Springboard footfall and vacancies monitor. High street footfall increased 1.2 percent in May, a major improvement from the 4.7 percent decline reported in April. Footfall in retail parks grew 1.2 percent year on year, up from the 1.1 percent rise in April.

However, shopping centre footfall fell 2.1 percent during the month of May, which is lower than the 0.7 percent dip witnessed in April, making it the second time this year that shopping centres had underperformed the high street. "With total footfall figures up and High Streets seeing a reversal in fortunes, today’s figures offer some respite from the relentless downward trend we’ve seen building in recent months," commented Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium (BRC).

"However, we know from our recent data that it’s online, rather than stores, that has driven May's sales upturn. Footfall up and store sales down gives credence to the trend of an increasing use of the high street for leisure activities and the researching of purchases made online either later or on the move through mobile devices." Diane Wehrle, Marketing and Insights Director, Springboard, added that the modest increase in footfall in May does not "necessarily mark the start of a positive trend just yet."

"The figures show the month’s footfall increase emanated from a 4.7 per cent rise in the first week of the month stimulated by the May bank holiday weekend. For the rest of the month, footfall dropped by an average of 1.1 per cent in the remaining three weeks...Our time of day data shows us that the “golden hours” of 5pm to 8pm are delivering the best footfall for UK high streets."

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