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Footfall boom gives Retail Property Investment boost

There’s good news for investors looking to retail property - until recently, down in the dumps.

But footfall in UK retail destinations rose by 3.7% in May from April mainly driven by a boost in high streets (+5.1%) and retail parks (+3.6%), and a marginal rise in shopping centres (+0.8%).

This encouraging trend aligns with an improvement in consumer confidence.

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Overall footfall fell marginally by -0.6% in all UK retail destinations in May when compared against 2023 largely driven by a drop in shopping centre footfall (-1.4%) and high streets (-1.2%) versus a rise in retail parks (+1.6%).

But weekend traffic rose by +2.1% year on year compared with a -1.7% decline during the weekday which could allude to the impact of the rail strikes earlier in the month during the weekday period.

The first half of the month saw much stronger performance with warmer weather and even rail strike action failed to dampen footfall in UK’s retail destinations.

Retail experts from MRI Software - monitoring the sector - say: “The first half of the month is likely to be where all of the gains were made as the early May bank holiday coupled with much warmer weather provided the perfect backdrop for people heading out, particularly to high streets where footfall rose week on week by an average of +3.7% in the first two weeks of the month. Even the rail strike action, which occurred in the second week of the month, appears to be subsiding.

“Despite disruptions occurring throughout the week, footfall continued to rise both week on week (+4.1%) and year on year (+7%) in high streets. This is where we would normally expect to see the greatest effect however with the bank holiday weekend and warmer weather, it could be that towns and cities kickstarted their summer events and festivals to drive footfall which is evident from the uplift in activity observed at either end of that particular week.”

MRI cautions that retail park footfall remained relatively steady throughout the month aside from the boost observed in the first week (+3%) of the month however shopping centres experienced marginal week on week declines in footfall for the final three weeks averaging -0.7%.
 
The retail experts add: “Looking ahead, there is much optimism for the retail and hospitality sector with major events including the Euros 2024, Glastonbury, and even Taylor Swift’s Eras tour arriving in the UK likely to boost footfall in various locations across the country.

“Recent reports from GFK also revealed an improvement in consumer confidence which was largely driven by people feeling confident about their personal finances, increasing by 15 points when compared against this time last year.

“With a General Election imminent and a heavy focus on revitalising the high street, only time will tell how election campaigns will impact retailer and consumer confidence in the coming weeks. Monitoring retail footfall data in real-time can provide the insights retailers need to adapt quickly and stay competitive in a fast-moving retail landscape.”

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