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A quiet August leads to drop in footfall and retail sales

By Don-Alvin Adegeest

23 Aug 2021

Retail

Image: Pexels

August retail has so far seen sales decline by 1.5 percent versus last month, according to figures from the ONS. In July sales rose 3.9 percent compared to June.

“Following the Euro 2020 related boost in June, retail sales fell in July to their lowest level since shops reopened in April, but still remain well above pre-pandemic levels,” said Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics at the ONS.

Sales at clothing stores and household stores fell, while department stores saw a slight of 0.2 percent. Sarah Coles, a personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, told the BBC July was a “washout for sales.”

“While the rain came down, we didn’t see the point in getting a new wardrobe, especially with so many people holidaying in the UK this year, so clothing sales didn’t get a boost from last-minute swimwear purchases.”

Footfall across UK retail destinations declined by -1.7 percent last week from the week before, with a drop of -2.2 percent percentnin high streets versus more modest drops of -1.3 percent in shopping centres and -1 percent in retail parks, according to data from Springboard.

The impact of the drop in activity last week meant that that the gap from the 2019 footfall level widened once again to -20.6 percent, with the greatest impact being in high streets where the gap from 2019 moved to -26.3 percent from -21.7 percent last week. The glimmer of good news is that footfall overall is 15.1 percent higher than in the same week last year, and 20.8 percent in high streets.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard commented: “The penultimate week of the school summer holiday period was something of a damp squib. Rain most days across all areas of the UK accompanied by cool temperatures led to footfall across UK retail destinations dropping from the week before, eradicating all of the uplift gained in the previous week. As is usually the case when it rains, high streets fared worse than both the covered environments of shopping centres, a and retail parks which are easy to access by car and have parking in close proximity to stores.”