UK retailers hit by drop in footfall as energy bills rise | Retail business

The number of visitors to shopping destinations fell last week in one of the first signs of a slowdown in spending amid rising energy bills.

In the week starting October 2, footfall was down 0.2% from the previous week across all UK retail destinations, with the biggest drop in shopping centers and retail parks, according to figures from watchdog group Springboard.

Diane Wehrle, chief information officer at Springboard, said there had been a drop in almost all parts of the UK – in some areas by more than 2% – which she said “may well be a first indicator” of the impact on consumers of higher products. energy costs that came into effect on October 1.

“It’s a stark contrast to the week before last, when attendance was up universally across all parts of the UK,” she said.

Retailers – including the bosses of Marks & Spencer, Next and Asda – have warned of a drop in consumer spending this autumn and next year as households grapple with higher energy and food bills.

Shoppers are expected to spend £4.4billion less – 20% less than last year – on non-essential goods in the last three months of the year, when most retailers take the majority of profits , according to research by Retail Economics with retail technology company Metapack.

However, Wehrle noted that it may be too early to draw firm conclusions about behavior because the worst drop in attendance occurred on Wednesday, when the weather was significantly worse than the previous week.

Visitor numbers remain up from last year, when the UK enjoyed a return to normal between the early summer pandemic shutdowns and December restrictions linked to the Omicron variant.

High streets saw the biggest rebound from a year ago – with visitor numbers up just over 7% – contributing to a 5.1% increase across all shopping destinations.

However, the number of shoppers remains nearly 11% below pre-pandemic levels, with central London and regional towns particularly hard hit – down 17.4% and 14.2% respectively.

Meanwhile, the Post has noted an increase in the use of cash as households attempt to manage their budget on a weekly or daily basis.

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