UK retailers had reason to be cheerful in May, with the month bringing the busiest shopping week of the year in terms of retail traffic.
The late spring bank holiday fell in the last week of the month, boosting footfall levels to their highest point of 2015, beating the previous peak of Easter week by 3.2%. DIY, homeware and garden centres were the big winners, with shopper numbers up by 9.5% over the extended weekend.
Ipsos Retail Performance, the global retail and footfall consultant compiles the Retail Traffic Index (RTI), which is derived from the number of individual shoppers entering over 4,000 non-food retail stores across the UK.
Retail traffic was up 2.8% on May 2014, with average weekly traffic increasing 1.1% month-on-month. Many of the regional falls in footfall seen last month righted themselves, including a 1.5% month-on-month rise in shopper volumes across the South West of England and Wales.
?The late Spring Holiday weekend was a real high point of the year for retailers in the home and garden sector. The month as a whole produced stable growth on last year?s footfall in each week of the month indicating a real momentum building in the return of shoppers to high street stores??commented Dr Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance.
Growth was particularly strong in Northern England, where footfall levels across the month were 8.8% higher than last year, peaking with double-digit growth over bank holiday weekend.?Polling day for the General Election on 7th May proved disruptive to shopping with the day recording a drop of 3.8% on the previous Thursday.
Dr Tim Denison continued:??Whilst the election may have impacted negatively on retail traffic for the day, the result means that recent economic policy will continue, and we can expect retail footfall to keep building. Whether growth is strong enough yet to see the launch of some summer Sales being pushed back a few days, contrary to the ?bring forward? trend in recent years, we shall await to see with great interest. Consumers remain comfortable on their promotions? diet, so it will take more than a few months of stronger demand to wean them off it.?These stable and growing footfall figures certainly support the optimism expressed by retailers in the latest CBI survey, in which sales expectations for the next month are at their highest level for 27 years. It all bodes well for some busy summer months ahead for the trade.?
Footfall change: May 2015 vs May 2014
Scotland & Northern Ireland +4.8%
North of England +8.8%
The Midlands +3.7%
South West England & Wales -1.7%
South East England & London -1.5%
Footfall change: May 2015 vs April 2015
Scotland & Northern Ireland -1.0%
North of England +1.1%
The Midlands +0.6%
South West England & Wales +1.5%
South East England & London +2.3%