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    Sunless summer impacts August footfall

    (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

    Footfall took a turn for the worse in August as summer sun failed to create last year’s rush to buy summer-favorites, shows recent data.

    According to BRC-Sensormatic IQ data published on Friday (1), total UK footfall decreased by 1.6 per cent in August (YoY), down from +1.8 per cent in July. High Street footfall decreased by 0.9 per cent in August (YoY), down from +1.6 per cent in July. Retail Parks footfall remain unchanged while shopping Centre footfall decreased by 3.8 per cent in August (YoY), down from +0.2 per cent in July.

    Of the UK nations, Scotland saw a YoY rise in footfall, showing an increase of +0.4 per cent. Conversely, England saw a YoY drop in footfall, a decrease of 1.3 per cent. This was followed by Wales at -1.7 per cent and Northern Ireland at -4.7 per cent.

    Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said, “Footfall took a turn for the worse in August as the summer sun failed to materialise. The impact was made worse when compared to last year’s heatwave, where many shoppers rushed to the shops to buy clothing, BBQs and other outdoor essentials. This month it was shopping centres that took the biggest hit, while high streets were also significantly down on last year.”

    Dickinson called on the government to re-introduce a tax-free shopping scheme to attract international shoppers, who are currently choosing other destinations.

    “Unless action is taken, the UK remains the only European country without a VAT-free shopping scheme,” she said.

    Commenting on the figures, Andy Sumpter, Retail Consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, pointed out that while total footfall was down, August showed some positive performance when it came to destination shopping with some travel and tourism hub cities, including Edinburgh, London, Liverpool and Manchester, showing positive upticks from ambient footfall boosted by tourism and school holiday staycations. 

    “Similarly, while our data showed the number of store counts of shoppers to retail units within shopping centres and retail parks dipped last month, the number of visitors to those retail settings remained positive. So, even if consumers are being more purposeful, visiting fewer stores during each shopping trip, the opportunity to benefit from that ambient footfall remains – the key will be how retailers can tap into that opportunity to turn passing trade into store visits and sales through meaningful store experiences and a retail offer that speaks to value.”

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