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Shoppers stay away from stores as weather hits footfall
11 November 2019

The number of shoppers heading to the high street, retail parks and shopping centres is continuing to fall, new data has revealed.

In October, footfall fell -3.2% compared to the number of people heading to the shops in the same month a year ago, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard.

The fall last month was the largest October drop for seven years, with cold and windy weather to blame.

High streets – exposed to the elements – suffered the most, with footfall down -4.9%, compared with the three-month average decline of -2.8%.

Retail parks, which have tended to hold up better than other shopping locations, also suffered a fall in visitors of -0.5% – the first drop for five months.

Shopping centres saw footfall down -2.4% in October, which was a slight improvement on the three-month average of 2.6%.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: “High streets were hit hardest in October, with the wet and wintery weather putting off many consumers from venturing out to the shops.

Weak consumer demand and Brexit uncertainty have both impacted sales in recent months and this could be further affected by the imminent election campaigning.

“Nonetheless, retailers will be hoping for footfall to pick up as they enter the all-important Golden Quarter.”

She also called on the next government to help the industry and, in particular, introduce an overhaul to the business rates system.

Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director, said: “The drop in footfall of -3.2% was the worst result for October in seven years.

“Whilst it can’t be regarded as a purely pre-Brexit breakdown as the weather also played a part, the prevailing political uncertainty must be having a considerable impact on activity given the low level of consumer confidence.

“When confidence is low, it doesn’t take much to deter shoppers and the torrential rain in the last week of the month hit footfall particularly hard, resulting in a drop over those seven days of -6.2%.”

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