Increased footfall in May 2016 fueled online sales, rather than in-store purchases.
According to the latest report by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), footfall was up by 0.3% compared to a year ago. This is better than the 2.4% decline seen in April and significantly above the three-month average.
However, while footfall was up, stores sales were down, shining a light on the growing trend that consumers use the high street for browsing and researching, rather than purchasing.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson, commented: “With total footfall figures up and High Streets seeing a reversal in fortunes, today’s figures offer some respite from the relentless downward trend we’ve seen building in recent months.
“However, we know from our recent data that it’s online, rather than stores, that has driven May’s sales upturn. Footfall up and store sales down gives credence to the trend of an increasing use of the high street for leisure activities and the researching of purchases made online either later or on the move through mobile devices. ”
High street footfall increased by 1.2% in May, better than the 4.7% decline in April. This is the best performance on the high street since July 2013, excluding Easter distortions.
Elsewhere, footfall in retail park locations increased 1.2% year-on-year, up from the 1.1% rise in April. While this is a marginal uplift from the previous month, the growth rate has been on a downward trajectory since January.
Shopping centre footfall fell 2.1% in May, performing for the second time this year lower than the high street.
Springboard marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle said: “May’s modest increase in UK footfall of 0.%, whilst in sharp contrast to the February to April footfall decline of 2.%, does not necessarily mark the start of a positive trend just yet.
“This is only the 14th time over the last six years that footfall has risen, and over this period footfall increased in two consecutive months only twice. We would need to see at least a three-month increase in footfall to indicate the upward trend spells anything more than a break in the clouds. With the uncertainty created by the EU referendum affecting consumer confidence, it will be challenging for this three month trend to establish just now.”
Time of day data by the BRC and Springboard shows 5pm-8pm as the ‘golden hours’ devliering the best footfall for UK high streets.