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Footfall drops by up to -3.7% as political uncertainty hits consumer confidence

Lauretta Roberts
24 October 2022

Footfall dropped up by to -3.7% in parts of the country last week from the week before as political uncertainty hit consumer confidence.

According to retail experts Springboard, footfall across all UK retail destinations declined by -2.3% last week from the week before, with drops in all three key destination types (-3.3% in high streets, -1.5% in retail parks and -0.7% in shopping centres).

This, said Springboard, indicated consumer nervousness as cost of living squeezes household incomes, potentially impacted by recent political turbulence.

In retail parks and shopping centres footfall rose on two days out of the seven, however, in high streets it declined every day. Footfall declined 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 all UK geographies apart from Scotland where it rose by +1.1% overall. In six areas the drop in footfall from the week before exceeded the UK average of -2.3%, reaching -3.7% in the West Midlands and -3.2% in the East Midlands. In high streets in the Midlands the decline in footfall was even more severe; -5.9% in the West Midlands and -5.2% in the East Midlands.

The drop in footfall last week from the week before meant that the uplift from 2021 across all UK retail destinations contracted to +5.9% from +6.7% in the previous week, with the gap from 2019 (pre-pandemic) widening to -11.1% from -9.2% in the week before last.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard, commented: “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.

"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.”

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