Visa’s Consumer Spending Index report for May shows a fall in overall consumer spending for first time in nearly four years, with a 0.8% drop compared to a year ago.
Footfall in May fell by 1.0% in the UK on the same month in the previous year, the first decline since February.
This is below the three-month average of 0.7%. This month’s positive three-month average makes two consecutive months of three-month average growth, the first time this has occurred since June-August 2013.
Springboard marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle said: “Whilst May’s footfall decline didn’t show a dramatic drop overall, the result for high streets were the worst result since June 2016 when high street footfall declined by -3.7% in the wake of the EU Referendum.
“However, April’s results were boosted by the shift in Easter from March in 2016 to April this year, so it is unsurprising that there was a downward shift in footfall from last month, particularly as UK consumers could feel additionally cautious in the lead up to the General Election.”
After the Easter boost in shopper numbers to retail destinations, footfall lost momentum in May, which was mirrored in the month’s sales performance. But it wasn’t just shops that suffered; poor weather at the beginning of the month kept people indoors and made it a poor month for footfall in general with fewer people out and about.
The biggest movement was noticeable in the number of visitors to the high street, which after several months of growth, saw the steepest decline since June last year. Retail parks however bounced back with a slight footfall growth of 1.5%.
Looking to the summer, Annabel Fiddes, economist at IHS Markit, comments: “Combined with relatively low levels of consumer confidence, uncertainty around the outcome of Brexit and a slowdown in UK economic growth, it’s likely we will continue to see weaker expenditure trends at least in the near-term.”