Footfall in October fell by 2 percent on the previous year, a deeper decline than September when footfall fell by 1.7 percent. October also marks the eleventh month of consecutive footfall decline, according to the BRC-Springboard monitor.
Northern Ireland was the only region to record growth of 2.7 percent, with footfall growing by 4 percent in both its high streets, an improvement from September’s sharp declines of 6.1 percent in both of these locations. The East and East Midlands experienced the deepest footfall decreases of 6.1 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively. Wales saw a deceleration in footfall decline, from -5.5 percent recorded in September to -2.3 percent in October.
“October showed another month reflecting the continued long-term decline in footfall. This trend is primarily driven by a move from in-store to online purchases,” commented Helen Dickinson, chief executive of British Retail Consortium.
High Street footfall fell by 2.3 percent, now three months of consecutive weakening for this shopping location. Northern Ireland and Greater London were the only two regions to see growth of 4 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively. The decline in the South East saw a significant acceleration from 0.6 percent to 5 percent in this location, the deepest fall since April 2018 when it declined by 6.2 percent.
At -0.2 percent in October, Retail Parks footfall slipped back after two months of positive growth.
The Shopping Centre footfall decline deepened to 3.3 percent from 2.5 percent in September (now 19 months of consecutive decline), a similar rate seen in October 2017, when it fell by 3 percent. No region experienced growth in this location.
The national town centre vacancy rate was 9.6 percent in October 2018, an increase on a year ago when the rate was 9.3 percent. Most regions saw a deterioration in their town vacancy rate compared to the previous quarter. Greater London increased its vacancy rate by a whole percentage point from 4 percent in July to 5 percent in October, though it remains the region with the lowest vacancy rate in the UK. Northern Ireland saw the highest improvement from 14.4 percent in July to 13.3 percent in October.
“If further evidence of the veracity of footfall as an indicator of retail trading performance were required then it is provided by October’s result of -2 percent,” said Diane Wehrle, director of marketing and insights at Springboard.
“Not only does it reflect the ongoing challenges that the retail sector is facing but, as importantly, with the decline becoming larger in every month since June, it is illustrating that the challenges for retailers have been increasing as we moved through the year.