By Daniel Hunter
Footfall in August was 0.9% lower than a year ago, down on the 0.8% rise in July. This is the lowest footfall rate since March 2013.
Footfall in out-of-town locations was flat in August after a relatively strong performance over the last four months.
High street footfall fell 0.6% although this compares with a good performance a year ago. Footfall in shopping centre locations remained weak, down 2.2%, but a slight improvement on July's 2.3% decline.
The North & Yorkshire was the only region to report positive footfall growth, up 0.1%. All other regions and nations reported a decline in footfall.
Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said: "A slight fall in shopper numbers is disappointing after several months of positive results, but there are a few factors at play. We're comparing against August 2012, when an Olympic influx in some areas pushed up the UK average, and it's also possible that more of us took our holidays after electing to stay put for last year's summer of sport.
"An overall drop masks widespread variations, with only Scotland and the North and Yorkshire showing a higher rate than the UK average. The latter region has the UK's highest vacancy rate, so there's reason to be cautiously optimistic this month.
"All in all, these figures need to be taken in tandem with the recent rosier economic news, including a good run of sales growth and many of us starting to feel more positive about the economy. A small dip in one month shouldn't take the shine off the tentative signs of improving consumer confidence hinted at in recent times, and retailers are working hard to read these conditions so that they can continue to deliver for their customers."
Diane Wehrle, Retail Insights Director at Springboard, said: "Somewhat surprisingly given the continuing hot weather, footfall declined by 0.9 per cent in August, which is the most significant drop since March. Despite this, over the quarter footfall has been stable compared with the previous quarter when it dropped by 1.9 per cent, and by 2.5 per cent over the same quarter last year.
"Shopping centres fared less well than high streets and retail parks in August, with a 2.2 per cent drop in footfall, a continuation of the trend over the quarter. Despite the challenges they face, high streets recorded an increase in footfall of 1.1 per cent over the quarter whilst in shopping centres footfall fell by 2.5 per cent.
"Given the increase in sales in August, the lack of uplift in footfall indicates that the number of customers visiting our retail locations is remaining steady in overall terms but they are spending more. The footfall performance of retail parks clearly reflects the fact that home products were the best performers in sales terms in August, which may well have deflected footfall away from high streets and shopping centres. In overall terms, however, the results for August indicate an increasing degree of stability in the performance of retail locations."
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