Retail footfall begins recovery in May as shoppers return to high street  

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The number of shoppers visiting physical stores in May saw its biggest month-on-month rise since 2021, with footfall up by +3.7 per cent.

According to new data from MRI Software – formerly Springboard – high street footfall surged by +5.1 per cent, retail parks by +3.6 per cent and shopping centres by +0.8 per cent compared to April.

However, additional BRC-Sensormatic IQ data reveals that UK retail saw a -3.6 per cent year-on-year (YoY) decline in footfall overall on May 2023. Analysts say the dip was primarily down to the three bank holidays that occurred during the same period last year, including the King’s coronation.

Shopping centres experienced the largest drop at -4.5 per cent followed by a -2.3 per cent dip in retail parks and -2.7 per cent on the high street. Retailers in Scotland were the hardest hit, with a -5.4 per cent fall in shoppers YoY, while Northern Ireland was the least affected at -3 per cent YoY. Footfall in England fell by -3.4 per cent YoY.

“Retailers were dealt some good news in May, as footfall recovered against the month before,” says Andy Sumpter at Sensormatic Solutions. “While no one’s denying this improvement is starting from a low base following a gloomy performance in April, many will be hoping that this represents a turning point. And, with inflationary pressures easing and household budgets starting to feel a little less squeezed, along with the optimism that may come with the general election in July, many may be hoping the mood music has shifted key into something more positive.

“With lots of opportunities to engage shoppers and benefit from ambient trade from forthcoming major events over the summer, such as the European Football Championships and Olympics, retailers may have just cause for cautious optimism that consumers will vote with their feet and head back to the shops in greater numbers.”