Tag: footfall

Footfall creeps up, vacancies down

clouds3The July heatwave is long gone, but its positive effects on the retail sector are still being felt. According to the British Retail Consortium, footfall was up 0.8 percent in July compared to a year ago. The footfall uptick was not the only good news, as vacancy rates went down.

BRC found that vacancy rates in town centres went down from 11.9 percent in April to 11.1 percent in July. Since lovely weather drove shoppers back to the high street, online took a hit. Online sales fell two percent compared to June, but year-on-year they were up nine percent.

In addition, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is now forecasting GDP growth of 1.2 percent in 2013, up from 1.0 percent in its May forecast. CBI revised its figures after a better than expected second quarter and signs of a pick-up in confidence across a broad range of sectors, including services, construction and manufacturing.

“The economy has started to gain momentum and confidence is picking up, but it’s still early days,” John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said. “We need to see a full-blown rebalancing of our economy, with stronger business investment and trade before we can call a sustainable recovery. We hope that will begin to emerge next year, as the Eurozone starts growing again.”

As the Eurozone emerges out of recession, we could be in for a period of relative stability, but the recovery remains painfully slow in most sectors.

Good weather boosts June footfall, high street gets the best of it

highstreet South endRetail footfall in June was up 0.1 percent year-on-year, reversing the negative trend in May, which saw a 0.7 drop. Good weather seems to be the main factor, as high street footfall was up 1.4 percent while out of town footfall was up 0.6 percent.

However, according to the British Retail Consortium, footfall in shopping centres dropped three percent following a previous drop of 1.7 percent in May. Looking at the first half of the year, the trend is largely positive, as footfall fell 1.5 percent compared to 2.9 percent during the first six months of 2012.

Greater London did particularly well, with a 2.4 percent spike, followed by Wales with a 2.3 percent increase. Scotland and the West Midlands were up by 1.2 and 1.3 percent respectively. However, footfall in the East Midlands was down 1.9 percent.

“The improvement in the weather may well have contributed to this,” said BRC director general Helen Dickinson. “Our recent retail sales figures showed a strong performance from fashion and footwear and it is likely that shoppers took advantage of the start of the sunshine in June to visit their local high street and buy items for their summer wardrobes.”

However, Springboard pointed out that good performance of high streets also has a lot to do with the fact that they underwent a bigger decline in footfall in previous year, which means they are starting from a lower base.

High Streets do better than malls

highstreet South endAccording to figures released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard, footfall in UK shops fell by 0.7 percent in May, year on year. Shopping centres saw the biggest decline, with a 1.7 percent drop, but there is some good news to report as well.

Retailers in London and Scotland outperformed the rest of the country, with footfall going up by 2.6 percent and 3 percent respectively.

The BRC reckons the good showing in Scotland can be attributed to good weather last month and the fact that sales were down over the first four months of the year. However, some regions weren’t as lucky. Footfall in Wales was 1.1 percent lower than a year ago, Northern Ireland saw a 3.1 percent slump, while the West Midlands and East Midlands were down 2.9 and 2.6 percent respectively.

Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC, pointed out that conversion rates were relatively good. Although people made fewer shopping trips, they were willing to pounce on good deals and seasonal promotions.

In addition, high streets outperformed shopping centres in the first five months of the year. Although the high street saw a one percent drop, shopping centres were down 1.7 percent.

“Footfall across all retail locations in the past few months has definitely been proving to be very volatile, particularly in high streets, which fell by seven percent in March, rising by 3.4 percent in April and declining by one percent in May,” said Diane Wehrle, retail insights director at Springboard.

Larger regional cities saw the biggest improvements in footfall, but small towns didn’t fare well. Shoppers are still willing to drive to bigger cities and out of town shopping centres, in spite of good weather. Footfall in out of town locations was up 1.2 percent compared to a year ago.

April brings ray of sunshine to high street

highstreet South endApril brought a ray of sunshine to the high street with footfall improving.

According to the BRC, high streets reported a rise of 3.4 percent, the strongest performance since December 2011, followed by out-of-town, which grew by 0.3 percent.

However the better weather didn’t warm everyone with footfall in shopping centres falling by  three percent in April, its worst performance since January 2013.

And empty stores remained a problem with the national town centre vacancy rate in the UK standing at 11.9 in April, up from 10.9 percent in January 2013 and marking the highest rate since the BRC survey began in July 2011.

Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said it was a “major concern” that the vacancy rate has reached a record high, driven by increases in almost every part of the UK, with some regions like the South West seeing a significant leap in empty shop numbers.

She added that with high streets topping the agenda for many there was a real opportunity “to seize the moment and stem the tide of further closures”.

“Comparatively small steps to tackle deep-rooted issues such as parking, accessibility and rising business costs could make a huge difference to the health of town centres,” she added.

Diane Wehrle, Retail Insights Director at Springboard, added the improved weather made a “significant difference” to footfall performance across the UK in April, with an improvement from -5.2 percent year-on-year in March to 1.0 percent in April.

UK retail sector healthier than in last two years

snow-londonAt its latest quarterly meeting in April, the KPMG/Ipsos Retail Think Tank (RTT) came to the conclusion that the health of the UK retail sector is improving.

The RTT upped its Retail Health Index by one point to 77 points, the best result in two and a half years.

The RTT cited a marginal lift in demand as the main factor underlining the recovery and things could have been even better had the first quarter of the year not been marred by unusually cold weather. Christmas sales were strong, the food sector performed exceptionally well and the decline in footfall, caused by wintry weather, did not hurt overall demand. Gadgets also did well, as consumers decided to stay indoors and chuck Angry Birds on their shiny new tablets.

However, retailers’ margins weren’t as good. Food margins remained flat and margins on technology products remain low. Costs stayed flat. Although multichannel operations continued to spend more on fuel and energy, this was offset by reductions in estate sizes and creative cost cutting measures.

The outlook for retail health in the second quarter is not so great and it is expected to stay flat, reports FreshBusinessThinking.com. Consumer confidence remains low, inflation is rearing its ugly face again, fuel and energy prices are set to rise, demand still looks very soft.

“Overall the quarter was quite an even one for UK retailers as demand, margins and costs all remained relatively static and it looks like we’re at the bottom of the decline,” said David McCorquodale, Head of Retail, KPMG UK. “The weather did affect demand in terms of footfall being down, but otherwise sales were largely ok.”

Highstreet sales for Feb hit three year high

highstreet South endFebruary brought with it a breath of fresh air for the high street, with figures showing sales grew at their fastest rates in years.

In its latest report, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said dry weather last month encouraged people to venture out, with figures rising by 2.7 percent on the previous year and marking the fastest growing rate in three years.

Electrical goods were said to fuel the figures with the BRC describing these as the growth engine of the high street, with “big ticket goods and items for the home recovering particularly well”.

Despite the horse meat scandal, food grew by one percent, although frozen burger sales fell in favour of ingredients to make products from scratch.

The organisation pushed once again for changes in the upcoming Budget to ensure the high street continued to dig its way out of despair, claiming that the government had to realise that retail is central to generating growth and jobs critical to the UK’s economic recovery.

However, it pointed out that weak consumer confidence was the real and present obstacle, and as a result the Chancellor had to create a Budget that left people with “more money in their pockets and the confidence to spend it and retailers with the means to invest”.

It also reiterated that if the proposed rise in business rates went ahead then retailers would be placed under “inexorable pressure”.

The BRC figures contrasted with a recent CBI survey which reported that food stores suffered their worst performance for five years in February.

Although the BRC painted a rosier-than-usual picture, high street staple Debenhams recently issued a profit warning, claiming the bad weather in January could dent its margins.

It said that earnings would miss expectations and that underlying revenues were 10 percent lower in the affected fortnight, compared with a five percent rise over the festive period.

Revised profits for the six months to 2 March will now stand at around £120 million, against £128.5 million a year earlier and City forecasts in the £131 million area.

Retail sales index slump blamed on weather


UK retail sales are down and it seems the slump is worse than economists had predicted. According to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), retail sales will hit a five-month low in February.

Although volumes continued to strengthen in the first half of February, the pace of growth slowed down once again. CBI found that 37 percent of retailers saw an increase in their volume in early 2013, while 29 percent reported a decline.

The resulting balance of 8 percent was the lowest figure since September 2012. It was also the third consecutive month in which the pace of growth had slowed. Economists expected growth to drop to 16 percent, down from 17 in January. They also expected the volume of orders to remain flat, but they fell 19 percent, the lowest figure since November 2011.

However, it is not all doom and gloom. CBI reckons the business situation is actually improving. The business situation balance rose to +12, the best result since August 2011. Some retail sub-sectors also did quite well, such as clothing, furniture and none-store goods, which includes online and mail order sales. In fact, non-store sales were up 70 percent.

“We all know trading is tough, and the bad weather hasn’t exactly been encouraging shoppers to hit the high street lately,” said Barry Williams, Chairman of the CBI Distributive Trades Survey.

So, it appears that strong non-store sales had a lot to do with horrid weather, and the weather also contributed to the sharp decline in retail footfall last month.

High street footfall drops

highShoppers on the UK’s high street are continuing to decline, recent figures from the British Retail Consortium have shown.

One retail analyst has suggested the drop is partly thanks to a vicious cycle, where stores are forced to focus on their online efforts – but neglect shop fronts as a result.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) released figures showing that shopper numbers had fallen by 1.2 percent in December, compared to the same time in 2011.

Shopping centres reported the greatest fall with a 2.8 percent decline, followed by out-of-town retailers, with a one percent fall, while high street locations saw footfall stumble by 0.5 percent.

The BRC said that the decline for the month as a whole came despite a rise of 7.5 percent in shopper numbers in the immediate week before Christmas.

The figures coincided with data released by the Office for National Statistics last week, which found that, although UK retail sales grew 0.3 percent in December, this figure was the lowest rise on record since 1998.

Patrick O’Brien, a retail analyst at Verdict, said there are a number of factors at play.

“Some shoppers stay away by online shopping, and this has let to retail chains investing less in their stores which in turn has made them less attractive creating a vicious circle,” he said, speaking with ChannelEye. “As a result, some high streets are looking very shabby indeed, and shoppers are tending to make one big trip to destination shopping centres such as Westfield Statford instead of several trips to the high street.”