September sun provides reasons for retail cheer

FAIR weather and bank holiday trading gave retailers a boost in September but shopper numbers were still down on last year’s figures, according to a new report.

The UK total retail footfall in September was 0.2% lower than a year ago. Picture: PA
The UK total retail footfall in September was 0.2% lower than a year ago. Picture: PA

Footfall was down 0.8 per cent in September compared with a year ago, although the figure was the best result since February 2015, excluding Easter.

The September figure was also an improvement on the 1.6 per cent fall in August.

The figures were published in the monthly SRC-Springboard Footfall Monitor.

Across the whole of the UK, footfall was down 0.2 per cent. Three regions reported positive footfall growth in September, with the greatest rise seen in the East Midlands. All other regions and countries reported footfall below the UK average.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Shopper footfall in Scotland wilted once again in September, albeit at a less pronounced rate than the month before and also when contrasted to the average of the past three months.

“Retailers and shopping destinations are clearly going to have to work harder to attract custom, no doubt through a blend of improvements to areas including service, ranges, pricing and promotions.

“With the clock ticking down towards big upcoming announcements on the UK and devolved budgets in a few weeks’ time retailers’ will be looking for convincing action from the Chancellor and Scotland’s Finance Secretary to improve consumer confidence, as well as steadfast resistance to the relentless rise in government-inspired cost pressures which have been witnessed of late or are under consideration. Rising costs divert and exhaust resources which otherwise would be used to grow the business.”

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard, said: “The perfect autumn weather, additional bank holiday trading day and the lowest UK vacancy rate for two years are key drivers behind relatively pleasing figures for September.

“In Scotland, the drop of 0.8 per cent was the best annual change for the past five months, and across the UK a drop of 0.2 per cent in footfall was the best year-on-year performance since March and the second best performing month over the last 17 months.”