MRI Software, formerly MRI Springboard, reports footfall across UK retail destinations has declined by -2.8% from August to September 2023, which appears to follow a historical trend where we typically see a drop in footfall from these months.
James Massey, managing director of MRI Software’s retail, energy and facilities management business in EMEA, commented: “This trend is also reflected in the annual performance weakening year-on-year as footfall rose by only +1.6% in September 2023 versus a +6.8% rise in September 2022 from the year before. This weakening in activity can also be seen across recent months; in August footfall was +1.9% higher than 2022, in July it was +2.1% higher, and in June it was +4.2% higher than the previous year. While there was a natural bounce back in footfall post-pandemic, the momentum is now starting to fall back in line with a pre-pandemic trend.”
MRI Software data showed the decline in footfall for September compared to the previous month was particularly noticeable in high streets and shopping centres, as footfall dropped by -3.2% and -3.7% respectively. Whereas retail parks saw a more modest decline of -1%. “This could be a sign of shoppers continuing to exercise caution in the face of rising interest rates and the burden of the cost of living, which is undoubtedly impacting their spending power especially as we start to prepare for the Christmas season,” explained Massey.
Weekday footfall declined by -4.5% in September compared with a rise of +2.7% in the previous month. However, over the weekend period, there was a noticeable increase of +4.6% in September compared with a decline of -3.8% in the month before – a trend we typically see following the summer holidays and the mass return to school.
The final week of September brought some positive news for retailers as footfall rose across all three destination types rose by +4.2% from the week before.
“This is a welcome result for stores and destinations, and was undoubtedly helped by the mild weather, although with a similar pattern over the same two weeks in 2022 it suggests a strong seasonal factor is coming into play. The stand-out winner was high streets where there had been a drop in footfall in the week before which had driven the overall decline, versus modest rises in retail parks and shopping centres.”