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Footfall drops in October as cost-of-living squeezes households

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

25 Oct 2022


Image: FashionUnited

Footfall across UK retail destinations declined by 2.3 percent in the week to October 22, as “consumer nervousness” continues due to the cost-of-living crisis and recent political uncertainty.

According to Springboard, footfall dropped in all key shopping destinations, with the high street taking the biggest hit with a 3.3 percent decline in footfall, while retail parks and shopping centres recorded a 1.5 percent and 0.7 percent drop, respectively.

The data also shows that retail parks and shopping centres footfall rose on two days out of the seven, however, in high streets it declined every day. Footfall dropped far more on Thursday and Friday than on the other five days, with "particularly poor" results in high streets where rain may have also deterred shoppers.

Footfall declined across the UK, apart from Scotland, where footfall rose by 1.1 percent. The Midlands was the worst affected area, with footfall dropping by 3.7 percent in the West Midlands and by 3.2 percent in the East Midlands.

The drop in footfall between October 16 and 22 meant that the uplift from 2021 across all UK retail destinations contracted to 5.9 percent from a rise of 6.7 percent in the week prior, with the gap from 2019 widening from a decline of 9.2 percent to 11.1 percent week-on-week.

Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, said in a statement: “There are several factors at play in terms of what is driving consumer activity; however, the most evident is the squeeze on household incomes as a consequence of inflation and increased mortgage rates. This, mixed in with the current political uncertainty, inevitably makes consumers cautious and then rail back on shopping trips.

“This is likely to have been compounded by the prospect of school half term this week, which may well have meant that shoppers deferred trips last week. Footfall typically rises in the week of school half term as families visit retail destinations for group shopping trips and days out, so footfall this week will be a good barometer of current consumer sentiment and behaviour.”

Wehrle added: “Footfall across UK retail destinations dipped noticeably and comprehensively last week; not only were there declines from the week before on all but two days when it rose marginally, but footfall was lower than the week before across all three key destination types and across all UK geographies bar one.

“Footfall remained higher than in the same week in 2021, however, the magnitude of the uplift diminished once again, and has now been in single digits in 10 out of the past 11 weeks, with the last double-digit rise from last year occurring at the end of July.”

High street