High streets witnessed a marginal but healthy increase in footfall during the four weeks covering July 31- 27 August.
According to the latest BRC-Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor, overall footfall in August was 0.1% up on a year ago, an improvement on the 0.4% fall in July. This is the second time in four months footfall has risen.
Strong growth was seen on high streets, with the report citing a 1.1% rise in high street locations. Elsewhere footfall in retail parks increased by 0.4%, while shopping centres continued to decline, falling 1.9% in August – the seventh consecutive month of falling shopping numbers.
BRC chief executive officer, Helen Dickinson OBE, comments: “Although this month’s increase in footfall is only marginal, it is an improvement on last month’s 0.4% decline. It’s also only the third time this year that overall footfall has increased. So, while these figures will give retailers some cheer, they’ll only be cautiously optimistic for the months ahead.
“High Streets were the real winner in terms of the destinations we were favouring this month. This suggests that people are being drawn to the high streets for reasons other than to shop – perhaps because many are now doing a better job of providing a mixed offer and are no longer solely retail destinations. Improving this model should bode well for the longer term survival of the British High Street.”
Six of the 10 regions the monitor measures footfall in saw a rise in August, all reporting growth rates above the overall UK average. Northern Ireland footfall rose 2.5%, while Wales continued to report strong footfall growth, improving on July’s rate, rising 1.8%.
The West and East Midlands, North and Yorkshire and South East witnessed footfall declines.
“August saw an influx of tourists and a return of the staycation in the UK as 5.1 m Brits decided to holiday at home over the bank holiday weekend,” adds Springboard marketing and insights diector, Diane Wehrle. “Whilst increased footfall didn’t translate to sales for many, coastal towns saw an improvement of -2.2% in July and August vs -4% in July /August 2015 and many retailers will be hoping that the tourism boom continues on the high street as we head into the Autumn.”