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Ipsos says non-food stores saw visitor uplift in June as sun shone

today Jul 11, 2017
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There are plenty of big question marks over whether Britons are ready to spend or save at the moment but the latest footfall figures from Ipsos Retail Performance (IRP) showed that in June at least they were prepared to go out and browse.

Warmer weather drove UK consumers to shop last month

The researcher’s figures showed that June footfall dropped year-on-year in all regions except London and the South East, falling anywhere from 1.5% to almost 8% in the various regions.

But the figures for the country as a whole increased by over 10% compared to May as pent-up demand finally found an outlet.

That was despite a raft of ‘spending suppressors’ that included rising prices, the general election, the shock of terrorist attacks and the ever-present uncertainty linked to Brexit.

The big decider that drove people into stores seemed to be the sunshine and IRP said large numbers of people hit the shops last month, suggesting that many UK shoppers remain as resilient as ever.

The firm’s figures are based on the number of individual shoppers who entered over 4,000 non-food retail stores across the UK.

The specialist footfall researcher said that its Retail Traffic Index (RTI) showed average weekly footfall was up by 10.4% in June compared to May. It was the highest month-on-month figure for June since the RTI was launched 20 years ago but we do still have to remember that most of the country still saw lower footfall than a year ago.

IRP’s director of retail intelligence Dr Tim Denison thinks the month-on-month increase was partly due to a delayed start to summer weather with the dull days see in May having resulted in consumers who were simply waiting for a break in the clouds.

“This was merely a delayed start to the usual summer spending spree,” he explained. “In fact, footfall bounced back with record-breaking gusto. Amidst the upheaval and uncertainty that hit the nation last month, consumers responded in the way that they often do…they went shopping.”
Healthy figures were reported across the UK, but South East England/London led the way, with retailers there seeing nearly 15% more shoppers in June than in May. Year-on-year, footfall for the region rose by 4%, which was the biggest increase in over five years and, as mentioned, made it the only year-on-year winner among Uk regions last month.

Elsewhere, Scotland/Northern Ireland and the North of England also saw promising results compared to May, reporting increases of 11.2% and 9.7% respectively with no region seeing a rise of less than 7.4%.

While all of this was good news, even with the fact that the year-on-year figures weren’t so great, Dr Denison sounded an extra note of caution. He said the growth is likely to have been fuelled by the recent rise in credit card borrowing, which is “cushioning” shopper behaviour. And while the clearance sales should encourage continued consumer spending, the impact of rising inflation and lower real earnings will be felt at some point. 

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