WRC – SPRINGBOARD FOOTFALL AND VACANCIES SEPTEMBER 2017

Covering the five weeks 27 August – 30 September 2017

  • Footfall fell in Wales by 1.9 per cent against a positive August (0.3 per cent).
  • This was below the three month rolling average of -0.9 per cent but the 12 month rolling average has fallen 0. 6 percentage points from 1.2 per cent to 0.6 per cent.
  • Footfall fell on the High street to -2.7 per cent. Wales showed positive growth only in Retail Parks of 0.8 per cent, a significant change to the growth seen in August of 1.6 per cent, but identical to last year’s growth rate.

Sara Jones, Head of Policy & External Affairs | Welsh Retail Consortium

"September saw an unwelcome fall in visitor numbers to Welsh shopping destinations, with high streets suffering the largest drop of 2.7 per cent. The overall figure puts Wales behind the UK average and will be of concern as we enter the festive shopping period.

"What Welsh retailers need now is a signal of confidence and stability at a time of when the cost of doing business is becoming a deterrent to investment.  We urge the Welsh Government to reflect on these issues when it tables its detailed budget plans later this month, giving the Welsh retail industry the boost it needs at a time of ongoing certainty and cost pressures.  Specifically, unless the Welsh Government takes action, next year’s rates bills could be significantly increased if the business rates multiplier rises in line with RPI as in previous years. Welsh Ministers should take a hard look at the pressure affecting high streets and take steps to minimise the impact on retailers and communities."

Diane Wehrle, Springboard Marketing and Insights Director

"The drop in Wales’s footfall in September of -1.9 per cent drove the three month rolling average down to -0.8 per cent from +0.4 per cent in August; the worst three month average this year.  Retail sales rose in September due to inflation, but the accelerating decline in footfall is a strong indicator of consumers railing back spending. Much is often made about the impact of weather, but with similar weather conditions to September 2016, this cannot be put forward as a driver.  Aggressive early season sales indicate retailers are spooked, and they will be on edge with the six week countdown now on to the start of the festive shopping season.

"And the decline in footfall doesn’t just mean reduced spending on retail goods; drops in footfall across all periods of the 24 hour day (-1.6 per cent from 9am to 5pm and -3.7 per cent post 5pm in Wales) demonstrate that leisure and hospitality spending is also being curtailed.  The fact that the drop in footfall during day time hours was half that post 5pm suggests some resilience, but this was derived from stronger performance in retail parks than in high streets and shopping centres, where day time footfall dropped by -2.6 per cent and -2.1 per cent respectively.

"Retail parks in Wales, continue to increase their appeal with a rise of +0.8 per cent; the eighth consecutive month of footfall increase. The appeal of their accessibility and free parking, alongside an increasingly attractive proposition, comes to the fore when household budgets are squeezed through inflationary pressures and minimal wage rise."